Friday, August 25, 2017

We must put community needs and community input into health care decisions

Community involvement in health care decisions is fundamental to putting patients first and to improving our health care system. In the wake of many recent poorly considered Pallister government health care decisions which have not had community input, it is clear that we need a process which puts community input into decisions made by our provincial government and regional health authorities.  Below are my comments from a press conference earlier today in front of the Victoria Hospital. 

"We are here today in front of the Victoria Hospital, the location of the Mature Women’s Centre which is being closed by the Pallister government.   Closing the Mature Women’s Centre is a bad decision.  It has an incredible health care team – doctors, nurses, a pharmacist, a dietitian and a kinesthesiologist – which does excellent work and uses approaches which keep women healthier and are at lower cost than traditional approaches.  It is one example of recent arbitrary and indiscriminate Pallister government cuts which are not taking community needs into consideration. 

I am here today to call on the Pallister government to move to elected regional health authority boards which are elected by the people as we do with school boards.  I also call on Pallister’s government to move away from global budgets for RHAs to budgets based on services delivered.  These two changes, to elected regional health authority boards and budgets based on services delivered will provide accountability to our communities for delivery of services and accountability financially.

In the present system, RHA boards are appointed by the Minister and are accountable to the Minister.  When a board members disagrees with the government the appointee can be removed. In the last few months, board members have been completely ineffective in speaking up for community needs.  Elected RHA boards will be able to speak up for community needs.   At the same time moving away from global budgets to budgets based on services delivered provides the financial accountability needed – accountability which has been lacking under appointed boards and global budgets.

I want also to add, that if I am elected the leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party in October, this will be a priority issue for me, and were Liberals to form government in 2020, these are changes I would implement."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Folklorama - Ukraine, Israel, Greece and Mexico

During the last few days, Naomi and I have visited several Folkorama pavilions. 
With Jim Carr at the Spirit of Ukraine Pavilion
Israel Pavilion
A visit by the Folklorama Llama to the Greek Pavilion 
The Mexican Pavilion

Meeting in Grandview to protest against the Pallister government's plan to close their ambulance station

Tuesday evening, August 15, I was in Grandview where about 500 people packed the community hall to express concerns about the Pallister government's plans to close their ambulance station.  The meeting was organized by Grandview's three physicians who see the ambulance station in Grandview as critical to the future health care for the region.  We were told that the decision to close the Grandview ambulance station was based on a computer model from Nova Scotia which does not adequately consider the realities of the situation in Grandview.  What concerned me most was that the Conservative's decision was made without any community input and community consultations.  In my view community input is essential in order to have the best possible health care system.  I listened to the case made by Grandview doctors Dr. Jacobi Elliot and Dr. Jim Rae, and by many community citizens.  The question was asked "Why are we being moved from a good system to a substandard service?" but no adequate reply was provided.  Individuals from nearby Gilbert Plains felt that a better result could have been achieved if the two communities worked together to arrive at a solution. In my view, the decision to close the ambulance service in Grandview should be reviewed and reversed.  The people of Grandview should be listened to. 
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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Honouring Robert T. Kristjanson - Mr. Lake Winnipeg

Yesterday, in Gimli, I joined many others to pay tribute to the efforts of Robert T. Kristjanson and the many years he has put in helping save Lake Winnipeg.   Robert was one of the first to point out the problem with algae on Lake Winnipeg, and he has been relentless in his efforts to ensure Lake Winnipeg and its fishery will have a healthy future.   In the photo above, Robert Kristjanson is together with Bill Barlow and Al Kristofferson.   The three became known as the three amigos as they travelled around Manitoba and into the northern United States to raise awareness about the plight of Lake Winnipeg.   I should add, that I had many positive comments in Gimli about my recent call for ending the dumping of raw sewage into the Assiniboine and Red Rivers by the City of Winnipeg.

Come and join us for a day of family fun - Sunday August 13

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Calling for Pallister to address raw sewage going into the Red and Assiniboine Rivers

Today, beside the Assiniboine River, I called for action from Brian Pallister and his government to address the raw sewage going into our Red and Assiniboine Rivers. 

Winnipeg has a proportion of the sewage going into pipes which combine the removal of sewage with the drainage of rainwater,  The result is that when it rains there is an overflow of sewage into our rivers.  This is not a good situation.  

In December 2015, the City of Winnipeg presented a master plan to the province in which several options were spelled out for addressing this problem.  These options, costing between $830 million and $4 billion vary from a partial to a full separation of sewage and rainwater.  The City is now waiting for a letter from the Province as to which option the Province will mandate.    However, in the 16 months since the election of the Pallister government no such letter has been sent.  Today I called on the Pallister government to end the delaying and to get to work and send the letter. 

At the same time, I indicated my view that whatever the short term requirement of the City may be, it is important to keep the goal of having a full separation of sewage and rainfall,   Indeed, I called for the province to ensure that the letter contains a requirement for the City to have a plan and timeline for the full separation. 

Ending the use of pipes which combine sewer and rainfall, and achieving full separation of the combined sewer pipes is important for three reasons:

1) The full separation of the combined sewers will end the dumping of raw sewage into the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.  This will decrease the phosphorous going into the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and decrease the algal problems on Lake Winnipeg. 

2) Raw sewage contains infectious agents including coliform bacteria like E. Coli and Salmonella, viruses like the norovirus and hepatitis A and parasites like cryptosporidium and cyclospora.   Our rivers are used recreationally and they should be safe from a health perspective and this means eliminating the use of combined sewers. 

3) With climate change we can expect more severe rainfall events.   This will result in more raw sewage going into the Red and Assiniboine Rivers unless we eliminate the combined sewers and achieve the separation which will mean all the sewage goes through a sewage treatment plant before going into our rivers. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Running in the Torch of Dignity Relay promoting human rights for all Manitobans

It was an honour to participate in the Torch of Dignity relay on Monday this week.  This event is organized by Manitobans for Human Rights, an organization which promotes human rights for all Manitobans 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Folklorama - India, Africa, Caribbean, Tamil Pavilions

Last evening, Naomi and I were fortunate to go to Folklorama. 
India Pavilion
Africa Pavilion
Caribbean Pavilion
Tamil Pavilion

Jamaican Association of Manitoba dinner for the 55th Anniversary of Jamaican independence.

Friday evening August 5th, Naomi and I attended the dinner to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Jamaican Independence in 1962.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The planned closure of the Corydon Primary Care Clinic. Sadly Mr. Pallister is not concerned about elderly and vulnerable people and communities.

Brain Pallister and the Conservative government have announced their plans to close the Corydon Primary Care Clinic.    This is a community based clinic which serves many people who are elderly, or are vulnerable and have complex needs.   The clinic which looks after about 5,000 patients, has a particular focus on the prevention and treatment of diabetes.   The clinic does screening for diabetes, treatment of diabetes and offers group diabetes management classes.  These classes are open to all Winnipeg residents with type 2 diabetes and their families.  This effort is of particular importance today as there has been a dramatic increase in diabetes from about 50,000 people in Manitoba two decades ago to more than 100,000 people with diabetes in Manitoba today.

The clinic is well situated close to the many people who live in nearby high rise apartments in this densely populated area.   Its focus is on those who live in the communities of Fort Rouge, Fort Garry Riverview and River Heights, and for diabetes management classes offers these to all Winnipeg residents with type 2 diabetes.  

Though the government claims there will be substantial savings from this closure - including $498,906 this fiscal year, this claim is highly exaggerated as has been clearly demonstrated in the analysis by Alex Arenson - see

It is sad that Mr. Pallister is choosing to target those who are elderly and most vulnerable (including those with diabetes) as he makes changes to health care in Manitoba.  It is particularly sad, that at a time when efforts to prevent and treat diabetes should be a top priority, Mr. Pallister is eliminating the Corydon Primary Care clinic.   If you are concerned about the closure of the Corydon Primary Care Clinic, please email your concerns to the Minister of Health at and help our efforts to try to reverse this bad decision. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Reid Bricker Memorial Art Show - and building support for improving mental and brain health care in Manitoba

With Bonnie Bricker
Reid Bricker
Reid's sculpture is graceful, and in some cases quite complex, as with the "Turning Point" sculpture below.

Last night, at the Reid Bricker Memorial Art Show, it was a time to remember Reid and to admire his skill as a sculptor and to talk about and devote ourselves to improving the brain and mental health care system in Manitoba so that tragedies, like Reid's death, do not happen in the future.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Naomi's art show opening at the Gallery in the Park in Altona

Yesterday was an exciting evening in Altona with the opening of a show at the Gallery in the Park in which Naomi was one of the five featured artists.   Above are some photos from the opening.