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Showing posts from 2018

The new Inuit Art Centre

Ground was broken earlier today for the new Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  

Hundreds of teachers rally at the Manitoba Legislature - for Kids not Cuts.

A very large crowd of teachers assembled at the Manitoba Legislature this afternoon.  They came protesting the cuts the Pallister government have made to the support of children and children's learning.   One of the speeches which resonated with me was from a teacher in Brandon who spoke about the difference it can make to helping a child with a learning disability, a speech delay or an anxiety issue.   Under the Pallister cuts the children as most risk are most affected.   Helping kids who are struggling can make a difference which lasts a lifetime and enables such children to succeed.  We need to stand strong against these Pallister cuts to help children who are doing their best to learn  




The plan to prevent another meth epidemic in the evacuated communities.

Wednesday May 23, I asked in Question Period what the government was doing to prevent triggering another methamphetamine epidemic in the communities which are being evacuated this year.  My question and the Minister's answer is below.Community Evacuations - Prevention of Meth EpidemicHon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, we are about protecting a community which is in a pretty desperate situation right now.       Large numbers of people have been and are being evacuated from Sapotaweyak, from Little Grand Rapids, from Pelican Rapids and from Kinonjeoshtegon, and potentially from other communities like Pauingassi.       Last year, when people were evacuated, it triggered the meth epidemic which we are still dealing with in these communities because evacuees were preyed upon by drug dealers.       I ask the Minister of Health: What measures are being taken today to prevent meth epidemics in communities being evacuated this year? Hon. Ron Schuler (Minister of Infrastructu…

The Fire Plan for Little Grand Rapids, and the potential use of Fire Boats.

Yesterday, in Question Period, I asked about the fire plan to protect Little Grand Rapids.  I also asked why the government was not using Fire Boats as part of its plan to protect Little Grand Rapids, a community along the shore of Family Lake.   My question and the Minister's response is below (from Hansard). Use of Fire Boats for Protection Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, I hope the minister will table today the fire plan for Little Grand Rapids so we can understand why there's been a delay in evacuating people, what the plan has been for the community and whether firebreaks were set up to protect the community.       You know, the community of Little Grand Rapids is located on the shore of Family Lake. It would, for example, have been an ideal situation to have dropped a fire boat in to protect homes along the shore. In the last two years, the government has rejected the possibility of using fire boats.       Will the government revisit the potential of help from fire boats und…

Saying Thank You to Pat Wege on her retirement as Executive Director of the Manitoba Child Care Association

Tuesday May 22, I had the opportunity to speak in the Manitoba Legislature to recognize Pat Wege for her contributions over many years to promoting child care and early childhood education in our province.  My comments are below.  Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate Pat Wege on many, many successful years as the executive director of the Manitoba Child   Care Association. Your contributions and achievements are many. You have been very strong in keeping governments of all stripes to account. You've always been pointing out that Manitoba should be doing more in terms of child care and improving the quality and how important this is to children and families here in Manitoba.       It is good to see that there has been some increase in funding, largely due to the federal government, in the last couple of years. But there is still a long way to go, and even as we continue the journey forward, it is the steps that Pat Wege has taken over the last number of years that are–…

Multiple Sclerosis

Tuesday May 22, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature about Multiple Sclerosis on the occasion of the recognition of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.   My comments are below and can also be seen on video at  this link.

Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, as has been pointed out, Canada has the highest incidence of multiple sclerosis in the world, and within Canada, Manitoba has among the highest incidence and prevalence rates. It is therefore very important that we, in Manitoba, pay a lot of attention to multiple sclerosis and to those who have this condition. There are an estimated three and a half thousand Manitobans living with MS, and the direct costs of these are considerable, both personally and of course for the provincial government.       Fortunately, there are many hard-working, devoted Canadians and particularly with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada who are working tirelessly to do better in both preventing and treating multiple sclerosis. An example of recent work shows tha…

The need for urgent action to evacuate people from Little Grand Rapids

In question period earlier today, I called on the Minister responsible for Emergency Measures to ensure people at Little Grand Rapids who have been unable to be evacuated because of dense smoke can be evacuated quickly because the fire is close by and moving into the community.  The need is urgent.  My question and the Minister's response is below:
Wildfire in Little Grand Rapids - Evacuation Difficulties
Hon. Jon Gerrard(River Heights): Madam Speaker, wildfires are raging across our province right now. One of these, a fire which is twice the size of the city of Winnipeg, is threatening the communities of Little Grand Rapids and Paungassi. Indeed, it is now, as I understand it, very close to and indeed moving into the community of Little Grand Rapids, and I hear from the MLA for Kewatinook that the fire has already destroyed three homes. I understand there is a difficulty in landing planes and that because of very dense smoke, many are still not yet evacuated from Little Grand Rapi…

Maureen Wood and a group from the Island Lake First Nations travel more than 3,000 kilometers on foot to Ottawa

Earlier this spring Maureen Wood began walking from St. Theresa Point to Winnipeg to draw attention to the meth crisis in her community. Last summer (2017) when more than 6,000 people were evacuated from the Island Lakes area because of forest fires, drug dealers gave free samples of meth to some of the evacuees and so the meth crisis began.   Maureen Wood picked up additional walkers in Garden Hill and Wasagamack and by the time she left the Island Lakes area there were a group of about 40 walkers.  They travelled the winter road, came through Norway House and reached Winnipeg more than 1,000 kilometers later.  In Winnipeg they met with Liberal, NDP and Conservative MLAs and the Health Minister to bring awareness of the meth crisis and to ask for help. Judy Klassen, Liberal MLA for Kewatinook, asked the Health Minister for support in Question Period.

But they did not stop there.  They continued their walk all the way to Ottawa, overcoming numerous challenges along the way.  Now, they…

Positive outcomes for homeless adults helped by Morberg House

This morning CBC news reported on positive outcomes achieved by Morberg House.   Three individuals who were at Morberg House were followed up.  Sam Lavallee who was homeless and on the streets has been able to turn his life around.  Austin Saunders was homeless and unable to find help until he moved into Morberg House where he had hope for the first time in his life.  He is now doing much better, has a place of his own and is engaged to be married.  Matt Ford moved into Morberg House in June 2017 and there he found the help he couldn't find anywhere else.  He is now in his own apartment and doing much better.

For the full stories click on this link.

A step forward to help deal with the Meth Crisis in Manitoba

Tuesday May 15, Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Burrows, introduced Bill 229, The Intoxicated Persons Detention Amendment Act.   We have found in conversations with individuals in the community who are dealing with individuals with methamphetamine addiction that police are unable to detain individuals with methamphetamine intoxication, unlike with alcohol intoxication where they clearly can.   The result is that individuals with methamphetamine intoxication are unable to be helped as much as they should be.   Cindy Lamoureux introduced this amendment to make sure that police have the power to detain individuals with methamphetamine intoxication just like they do for alcohol intoxication.   If enacted this would be a step toward being better able to deal with the methamphetamine crisis in Manitoba. Ms. Cindy Lamoureux (Burrows): I move, seconded by the member for Kewatinook (Ms. Klassen), that Bill 229, The Intoxicated Persons Detention Amendment Act, be read for the first time. Motion presen…

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Thursday May 17, I spoke on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobpia Mr. Gerrard: It is important that we recognize today, as we are doing, a day to draw attention to homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, a day to dedicate ourselves to try to make our world a better place for all, including those in the LGBTQ community.       This is an important human rights issue. It is a challenge for people in the LGBT community, but increasingly we are recognizing the tremendous positive contributions that people in the LGBT community are making in many, many ways in our province, in our country and in the world.       I would like to pay a tribute to one of the  leaders, Shandi Strong, of the transgender community. She has led an effort around Pride Day to recognize the transgender community and their progress and their needs. She has led in having an annual recognition of the problems around the world, a recognition that I have been to in the last couple of years, and it …

Vyshyvanka Day

Thursday, in response to the Minister's statement, I spoke on Vyshyvanka Day at the Manitoba Legislature (from Hansard). Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, I join other members of the Legislature in celebrating Vyshyvanka Day. It is an important day for people of Ukrainian origin. It is a colourful day with many colourful garments, and with symbols which are inspiring and meaningful and talk of optimism and hope for the future. The Ukrainian history for people who came from Ukraine to Manitoba dates back well more than 100 years when many people came in the early parts of the 1900s and, to some extent, even in the late 1800s. Ukrainian people who have come to Manitoba have made a huge contribution to our province in virtually all areas of life, from agriculture to science to health care, you name it, and there are many Ukrainians who are involved.       We are very cognizant of the fact that the Holodomor occurred in the Ukraine and, of course, there are Ukrainians who have come to Canada…

Debating the importance of the french language, education in french and french services in Manitoba

Thursday, May 17, we had a debate on a resolution on french language education and french language services in the Manitoba.   The debate arose because the Pallister government has made major cutbacks in french language education.  In part these cuts have reduced the status and funding for  le Bureau de l'éducation française which is the division of the Department of Education which deals with education in french.   Several items are notable:  The Pallister Conservatives block a motion to have the normal full hour of debate.   Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I have a question. Before I ask it, this is a pretty important subject and I'd like to have leave to make sure that we have a full hour of debate, and so the debate would go 'til about 12:15. Mr. Deputy Speaker: Has there been leave to go to 12:15? An Honourable Member: Agreed. An Honourable Member: No. Mr. Deputy Speaker: No. I hear a no, so denied. [It was the Pallister PC MLAs who denied this request].
The NDP will not ad…

What is happening with the clean up of Lake Winnipeg - addressing phosphorus and algal blooms?

Algal blooms on Lake Winnipeg at Victoria Beach in 2013
Algal blooms on Lake Winnipeg have been increasing and represent a serious concern.  In Estimates on May 16, I had the opportunity to ask the Minister for Sustainable Development about the status of efforts to clean up Lake Winnipeg, to reduce phosphorus in the lake and to reduce algal blooms.  My question and the Minister's response is below (from Hansard).  
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I would like to ask the minister about her plan to address the algal blooms in Lake Winnipeg, to decrease phosphorus, including the timelines for completing the sewage treatment at the North End plant to remove phosphorus, addressing the monitoring in lakes and rivers in the Lake Winnipeg watershed plans with respect to other areas of phosphorus source, including agricultural sources and sources like commercial dishwasher detergents.
Ms. Squires: I appreciate the member's question on, you know, protection and the survival, really, of…

Westland Foundation breakfast

On May 2, I attended the Westland Foundation breakfast with Dougald Lamont to support their efforts to provide scholarships for students in Inner Winnipeg.   Congratulations are due to Foundation President John Prystanski, to all the volunteers and to the students who have earned the scholarships.  David Barnard, President of the University of Manitoba "The Westland Foundation inspires us to be engaged citizens." Gregg Hanson, Keynote Speaker: "Education empowers us to achieve our goals." "Every child is a sacred gift to our community" "Helping children learn belonging, mastery, independence and generosity."

Speaking of climate change and where we need to go in Manitoba

Tuesday May 15, I had the opportunity to speak in the Manitoba Legislature on a resolution dealing with the Kinder Morgan Pipeline.   I chose to take the opportunity to refocus our efforts on reducing greenhouse gases emissions in Manitoba and addressing climate change in our province.  
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): You know, this resolution deals with an issue which is already being dealt with. The federal government has said that it will ensure that it's working with Alberta and BC and that the pipeline is going to be built.       Our challenge here in Manitoba is to address the issues we have with greenhouse gas production in our province, that we have–we are still very dependent on fossil fuels. We need to convert over to a province which is less dependent. We produce too much nitrous oxide and too much methane. And we need to work out how we will be able to operate, in fact, in a way that's beneficial to farmers so that they are, instead of seeing nitrous–nitrogen go …

Protecting workers - an appeal to the Premier with respect to the investigation of the death of Todd Maytwayashing

Earlier today in Question Period, I asked the Premier for reassurances that individuals who come forth with information about the death of Todd Maytwayashing will be protected so that they will not lose their jobs or suffer in any other way.   Below is from Hansard. Workplace Death Case Concern - Whistleblower ProtectionHon. Jon Gerrard(River Heights): Madam Speaker, with respect to the death of Todd Maytwayashing, on the May the 7th the Premier (Mr. Pallister) said that he's taken this issue on personally and seriously. The family and I appreciate the Premier's personal interest and, indeed, his visit to the family home a month ago today. There is, indeed, an area where the Premier can help. I understand that there are others, including in the gallery today, who are ready to come forward to talk about the situation, but are reluctant to do so for fear of losing their job. Can the Premier tell the family members who are here today that he will make a statement or take action whi…

Creating awareness of the need to address the issue of invasive species in Manitoba

Tuesday, May 11, I spoke to a bill put forward by the MLA for Selkirk to make the last full week in April Invasive Species Awareness Week.  It is a measure I support, and was able to make the suggestion of an annual report released that week and what it might contain.  My remarks are below (from Hansard).
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I thank the member for Selkirk for bringing this forward. I think this is a good idea. Clearly, when we were dealing with zebra mussels, the government wasn't adequately on the alert and looking out for zebra mussels. When we had zebra mussels in Lake Winnipeg identified and in the Red River, there should have been a really fast, major plan to stop the spread of the zebra mussels.       I spoke in the Legislature at the time about watching the water corridors, the corridor from Lake Winnipeg over to Lake Manitoba, the water corridor up into­–through the Saskatchewan River and up toward The Pas. And yet the government was clearly not adequately thi…

BMO Celebrating Women event - congratulations to Lisanne Pajot, Margaret Von Lau and Giovanna Minenna

Susan Thompson, former Mayor of Winnipeg gave the Keynote address last night at the BMO Celebrating Women event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  She spoke of celebrating women's intuition.  Congratulations to Lisanne Pajot, co-founder of BlinkWorks, Margaret Von Lau and Giovanna Ninenna who were chosen as the recipients of awards last night. 
Margaret Von Lau, Executive Director of N.E.E.D.S Inc. accepts her award. Giovanna Minenna, Founder and Creative Director of Browse by G, receives her award.


Supporting the people of St. Boniface who are looking for improvements in their community with respect to Industrial Metals.

Monday, May 14, I asked the Minister for Sustainable Development about the situation in St. Boniface with respect to residents concerns about pollution, noise and other issues with the current situation at Industrial Metals.   Our Manitoba Liberal leader Dougald Lamont, and our team have been meeting people in St. Boniface who are very concerned about the situation and they are looking for answers.   My question to the Minister and her responses are below (from Hansard).   You will notice on the positive side that the Minister has held meetings with people in St. Boniface.  You will also notice that she did not fully answer my questions. 
Mr. Gerrard: Moving from the importance of identifying and understanding pollution and other matters in fresh water–I thank the minister for her answer to that question–in St. Boniface, there's a business called Industrial Metals. It basically has a metal shredder, which, I understand, shreds or breaks cars up into small pieces.       There are …

The Minister of Sustainable Development says the Pallister government is a supporter of the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Experimental Lakes Area

In Estimates on Monday May 14, I asked the Minister for Sustainable Development about her government's approach to IISD and ELA.   My question and the Minister's response is below (from Hansard).
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): My question to the minister: I know that she commented a little earlier this afternoon, favourably, about the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and I presumed that that probably includes Experimental Lakes Area which is part of that. And it is, of course, an international resource and very critical to us understanding fresh water, and I just give the minister an opportunity to give us an update on what's happening and how the funding is going, to ELA, partly because it wasn't listed as a line item, initially.

Ms. Squires: I appreciate the member's–member opposite's question on the Experimental Lakes Area, and I was pleased to join the member at a reception not too long at the home of Gail Asper on the celebration–the …

Minister Squires says she is moving forward on eco-certification of lakes, especially for Lake Winnipegosis

Friday May 11, I asked the Minister of Sustainable Development what is happening with the eco-certification of lakes, and particularly with respect to Lake Winnipegosis where the pickerel fishery has, for many years,  been severely impacted.  My question and her response are below (from Hansard)  Mr. Gerrard:The minister and her government campaigned on a plan for eco-certification of the fisheries on Manitoba's three great lakes, and I'm going to ask specifically about Lake Winnipegosis because it's the worst affected. And I would ask the minister, what is her plan and timeline for eco-certification for Lake Winnipegosis? Ms. Squires: I thank the member for bringing up the issue of sustainability on our lakes. And I do want to mention and commend the member for some of his passionate advocacy in relation to some of our species, the sturgeon and other species in Manitoba. And just for generally having a concern about our–the sustainability of our fishers.       Member knows …

The biggest deficiency in the Pallister climate change plan is in the failure to address agricultural greenhouse gas emissions

In Estimates on Friday May 11, I asked Minister Squires about the government's plan to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.   The biggest failure in the Pallister plan was in not addressing agricultural emissions, even when there are potential wins for the climate and wins for agricultural producers in doing so. Mr. Gerrard:       My second question has to do with the climate change plan. I was very disappointed that there wasn't an action plan for agriculture in the climate change [plan], and that nitrous oxide, for example, wasn't even mentioned, and that the agricultural emissions were estimated either 30 or 32 per cent, but they didn't include any of the gas or fossil fuel used in tractors, the heating of barns.       I was talking with people with Keystone Agricultural Producers; they're saying that the numbers should be closer to 38 per cent. I'm not sure that it shouldn't even be 40 per cent.       So, clearly, when it comes to agriculture…