Monday, February 19, 2018

Protective parents and why they need our support.

Protective parents seek to protect their children from abusive partners.  It has become evident that all too often, neither they, nor their children are adequately listened to when there is a custody dispute before the courts.

The Christmas Day tragedy in Oak Bay, British Columbia, where evidence suggests that two young girls aged 4 and 6 were murdered by their custodial father, has sent a chilling message to all that it is time to pay much more attention to these voices in custody disputes.  In this particular case, though the woman raised evidence of abuse in the Oak Bay situation, her evidence was not taken seriously enough and the father was provided with custodial time.  The decision, coming from the family court in British Columbia, may have set up the situation which led to the children’s deaths.

Sadly, based on the eerily similar stories of protective parents that I have met or who have written to me, this situation- where a protective parent raises concerns of abuse, appears all to too often to be dismissed in cases of custody disputes, often with allegations against that parent of parental alienation and suggestions of the manipulation of the children in question.

I call upon social workers, lawyers, judges and the Family Court system, to seriously consider a protective parent’s concerns as valid, in order to be certain that they are properly and fully investigated in order to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Most of the protective parents I have heard from are women, but there are cases where the situation is the reverse.

I have received a significant number of emails since the Oak Bay tragedy, and am aware of situations from across the country.  This demonstrates that the incidents of raising concerns of abuse are not rare, and that it is time to act before more tragedies occur. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

South Africa - at a turning point

With former President Jacob Zuma stepping down this past week, and with Cyril Ramaphosa the new President, South Africa is at a turning point.  Naomi and I had the good fortune to be in South Africa recently and to learn what is happening there first hand.  We found a nation ready for change and hopeful that Cyril Ramaphosa would be President and would have the ability to end the problems with corruption in South Africa and to put the country on a more positive course.

On our arrival, we were struck immediately by the water crisis in Capetown.
We saw signs like this one in many places - starting at the airport when we arrived. Capetown may be the first major city in the world to run out of water.  Day zero is now predicted to be sometime in April.  Hopefully, with everyone conserving water and with some rain the crisis can be averted.  But the fact that it is this close is a warning sign which is being heard around the world.

We were fortunate, when we were in Durban, to have an opportunity to meet with Tim Brauteseth, the Member of Parliament for the Demoratic Alliance for KwaZulu-Natal and to be able to discuss a whole variety of issues from the current political situation in South Africa to health care to child welfare and education.

While in Durban, we met members of the Hillcrest Rotary Club.  Thank you to our hosts Rob and Pat Campbell.  The Winnipeg Downtown Rotary Club, to which I belong, has partnered with the Hillcrest Club to fund a rainwater harvesting project for the Ikhethelo Children's Village.  The clubs are also working together on a sanitation project for the Gillitts Primary School and looking to support the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust.  We had the opportunity to visit these three projects and were very impressed with the work which is helping orphaned children, helping improve the education for children from disadvantaged households and addressing health issues related to the high incidence of AIDS in this part of South Africa.
Naomi and I are with Ms Arti Jadoo, Principal at the Gillitts Primary School, and Rob Campbell, President of the Hillcrest Rotary Club.

During our time in South Africa, we had the opportunity to visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years, and to learn about the conditions there first hand from a former political prisoner.   We were also able to visit Constitution Hill in Johannesburg where Nelson Mandela had been held before going to Robben Island and to appreciate the awful conditions in this facility.  In Soweto, we visited the site of the June 16th, 1976 students' protest where 13 year old Hector Pietersen was shot.
The.photo above is from June 16th, 1976 when Hector Pietersen was shot and died.  He is being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo, with his sister, Antoinette Sithole running beside.  We had the extraordinary luck to meet Antoinette Sithole when we were in Soweto.   Many years later she is still helping to improve understanding and awareness of what happened as part of the national effort for reconciliation.  The day after we were in Soweto, we met Antoinette's husband Meshack Sithole and had a further opportunity to learn from him.   Thank you to Antoinette and Meshack. Today June 16 is Youth Day in South Africa - a day when South Africans honour young people and bring attention to their needs.

South Africa is an exciting country to visit because of its history and because we can learn from the approach they have taken toward reconciliation.  There has been an extraordinary transformation since 1994, and it is exciting to see it and to learn about it.  There remains, yet, much to do.

South Africa is also exciting because of the wildlife found in places like Kruger National Park which we were able to visit.
While elephants are threatened in parts of Africa, they are doing well in the Kruger National Park.
The Red-billed Buffalo Weaver builds large nests, sometimes in Baobab Trees, as you can see below.  These nests are always on the west side of the tree, believed to be related to the importance of heat in the afternoon for the nests to stay warm overnight.   This pattern is so consistent, you can tell the direction when you find such a tree.
There are many different species of eagles in South Africa, the Tawny Eagle (above) being one.
South Africa is also remarkable for what we can learn about early humans, and human evolution. Homo naledi is shown above drawn based on bones first found in 2013.  The discovery was in a region north-west of Johannesburg now described as the Cradle of Humankind.  Homo naledi lived 250,000 to 450,000 years ago and had hands and feet very much like modern human hands and feet, but with a brain, spine and rib cage which are closer to that of a chimpanzee.   Because the bones were found in a chamber with only a very narrow (18 cm) entrance, a team of six "Underground astronauts" with experience and skill in archeological/paleoontological excavation, and who were small enough to fit through the narrow entrance, was assembled to map the cave and to bring many bones out to where they could be evaluated by scientists from around the world.  One of the six, Marina Elliot (shown on the left in the photograph below), was a Canadian.
All in all, we had a remarkable experience while we were in South Africa.  We learned a lot, and we hope that some of what we learned we can use to enhance our ability to help improve the lives of Manitobans and Canadians. 

Liberals move forward with "Health Care Check Up" Public Forums

In two years in government, the Pallister PCs have moved to make major changes in Health Care. Many of these changes have not been well grounded in either their goal or their execution.  Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with these changes, it is now time to take stock of where we are and get a sounding from people around Manitoba about what is working, what is not working and where critical investments need to be made.  This is what our Manitoba Liberal Caucus is doing in preparation for the spring session of the Manitoba Legislature which starts March 7,  These public meetings follow our previous Forum last November and the efforts we have made since then as described at this link

Our press release announcing our initiative is below: 

Manitoba Liberals Launch “Health Care Check Up”

Winnipeg – Manitoba Liberal Health Critic, Jon Gerrard, is launching a series of public meetings across the province to listen to the opinions and needs of Manitobans in regards to our health care system.  The public meetings will be held in communities across the province including Brandon, Grandview, The Pas, Flin Flon, Thompson and Winnipeg.

“We are launching this effort to listen to Manitobans around the province because we are seeing an unprecedented level of concern with the impacts of the Pallister government’s cuts to health care,” said Gerrard. “The changes are creating problems, causing a disturbance, and creating low morale in much of the health care system.”

“Pallister isn’t listening to his own experts who are telling him to stop the cuts and closures, and he isn’t listening to the concerns of Manitobans,” said Manitoba Liberal leader, Dougald Lamont. “We want to hear from Manitobans how the PCs cuts to healthcare have impacted their lives. We will deliver those stories, those messages to Premier Pallister, and we will continue to call on this government to put an end to these reckless cuts.”

Manitoba Liberals will connect with Manitobans by engaging in conversations that are not just critical, but also constructive, to assess the strengths, weaknesses and critical needs of our health care system.

“In more than 22 years in politics, I have never experienced as much concern about the future of health care in Manitoba as we are seeing right now,” said Gerrard.

We will ask Manitobans three questions:
  1. What areas of health care in our province are working?   These are areas we need to preserve and build upon to reach an even better system.
     
  2. What areas of health care are not working? These are areas where we need to make changes to improve.
     
  3. What areas need improvement and investment?  For example, where we need to focus additional resources to achieve optimum health for Manitobans.
     
    We invite all Manitobans to attend the public meetings. Here are the first six scheduled public meetings:

    Brandon 
    WednesdayFebruary 21st
    6:00 - 8:00 pm
    Brandon University (Louis Riel Room)
    270 18th Street

     Grandview
    ThursdayFebruary 22nd
    10:30 am - 12:30 pm
    Drop-In Centre
    432 Main St.

     The Pas
    MondayFebruary 26th
    7:00 - 9:00 pm
    The Pas Library Annex
    53 Edwards Ave.

    Flin Flon
    TuesdayFebruary 27th
    6:00 - 8:00 pm
    Flin Flon Public Library (Basement)
    58 Main St.

    Thompson
    WednesdayFebruary 28th
    6:00 – 8:00 pm
    Meridian Hotel
    183 Cree Street

    Winnipeg
    SundayMarch 11th 
    2:00 - 4:00 pm
    Ber Max Restaurant
    4-1800 Corydon Ave.

An Update on Manitoba Liberal activities on Health care since the Forum of November 19th last year

Last year, as our Manitoba Liberal Party Health Critic, I hosted a forum looking at health care and the impact of the Pallister cuts.  In follow up to the forum, our Liberal Caucus has been active in speaking up about the issues and the solutions when it comes to health care in our province.

A list of some of the actions and activities we have undertake includes:

1. Efforts to stand up for our province's nurse practitioners and to ensure they have a strong future in health care in Manitoba.

2. Efforts to improve brain and mental health, and specifically to address the methamphetamine crisis in Manitoba by ensuring we have a drug stabilization unit and follow up transition planning.

3. Efforts to support the efforts of CancerCare Manitoba and to rebut negative comments in the PCs KPMG report with respect to CancerCare Manitoba.

4. Efforts to address problems in the proposed changes to rural Emergency Medical Services, and in particular the proposed removal of the ambulance station in Grandview.  I have met with people in Grandview, travelled twice to Grandview, presented petitions in the Manitoba Legislature with more than 2600 signatures and asked pointed questions to the Minister in the Legislature. 

5. I have raised concerns about problems and poor health care which have resulted from the ending of the IV team at the Health Sciences Centre.  These were highlighted in news reports.  These concerns have continued as we have seen in recent news reports because the situation is still not adequately addressed.

6. I have raised specific problems which have resulted from the closure of the Victoria Hospital Emergency Room. 

7. I have raised concerns about long wait times for back surgery in Manitoba.

8. We have raised concerns about the lack of an adequate approach to preventing suicides in Manitoba.

8. Through all this we have emphasized the need to put patients first, and have continued to emphasize concerns arising from the closure of the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre,  the closure of the Corydon Primary Care Clinic, the Mature Women's Centre at Victoria Hospital and the termination of the lactation consultants at the Health Sciences Centre.

9.  We have also stood up to the Pallister government when they have stood by when changes are made allowing patients to jump a queue to get private health care services in Manitoba, changes which are contrary to the Canada Health Act.

10.  We are at a sad time for health care in our province, with many valuable programs being lost with resulting deterioration in health care delivery because the Pallister PCs have focused on what they can cut rather than on how to improve our health care system.  It will require much continued hard work to make sure Manitobans around our province know what is happening and how we can stand together in support of good health care in Manitoba and against the deleterious changes being made by the Pallister government.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Manitoba teachers should be supported, not attacked as the Pallister PCs are doing.

Supporting public education is one of the most important roles of the provincial government.   A strong education system is vital to ensure that all children can reach their potential.  It is crucial that we have a system which gives all children the opportunity they need, children from all parts of Manitoba and children with learning disabilities as well as those who learn easily.

It is therefore very hard to understand why the Pallister PCs feel they must attack some of the most critical people in our province – our teachers.   Sadly this is the case.

Norm Gould, the President of the Manitoba Teachers Society, told members of  the Manitoba Legislature, following the provincial election of April 19, 2016, he was “optimistic that we would be able to work with government to develop options to improve the government’s fiscal situation”.   Even when the government started its attack on teachers, Mr. Gould said “the Manitoba Teacher’s Society remains committed to working with the Manitoba government to address these fiscal challenges in an authentic, meaningful way.”

But, sadly the Pallister government would not listen to and would not work with Mr. Gould and Manitoba teachers.  Instead, as Mr. Gould has pointed out, the Pallister government unilaterally implemented its plan so that “over the next four years teachers will have contributed $271.5 million in lost income to the Minister of Finance and to this government.”

In its 2017 budget the government reduced the increase in the budget for school divisions to 1%.  Last week the PC government announced it would only increase the budget for public schools by 0.5%. Further, 21 school divisions received cuts to their programs.  These actions are hamstringing school boards and teachers in their efforts to teach young Manitobans and to give them opportunities. 

But even more than the reduction in funding for public schools, the Pallister PCs have forgotten that they were elected on a promise to improve learning for students.   The Pallister government has been in office two years and has yet to produce any vision or to implement actions to improve education.  They have been solely fixated on attacking teachers, on decreasing the salaries of teachers and on reducing the pensions of teachers. 

Last week, to add to the attacks on teachers, the Pallister government announced it will move, unilaterally, without even talking to teachers, to impose provincial bargaining on teachers.   As Norm Gould has said to the teachers – “We were blindsided. Your salary will be frozen.  Your pension will be reduced by 30%.  The Pallister government will impose provincial bargaining on you and your colleagues starting July 1.” 

As Mr. Gould has pointed out, his “proposals and openness to work with government were repeatedly dismissed.” He and the teachers of Manitoba have been betrayed by this government.   It is abhorrent that the Pallister PCs continue to launch attacks on Manitoba teachers.  Manitoba Liberals will stand up for teachers and for working with teacher in our province in our provincial effort to improve education for all.


Below is a press release our Liberal Caucus sent out today. 


Manitoba Liberals Give PCs a Failing Grade on Education

WINNIPEG – Halfway through their four-year mandate, the Pallister government has done nothing to improve Manitoba’s education system. With twenty-one school divisions receiving cuts to their funding this year, the PCs have failed Manitobans.

The Pallister government has shown zero leadership on Indigenous education issues during a time when we’re seeing graduation rates for Indigenous students sitting at an alarmingly low rate of 47.6%, compared to 86.2% for non-indigenous students.

The cuts will also affect one of the most successful First Nation education projects in Canada. The local school board in Rossburn has a partnership with Waywayseecappo that sees federal funding being matched with local funding - but if local funding goes down, it will on the reserve as well. 

Instead of working collaboratively with Manitoba Teachers to build a stronger education system, the PCs have blindsided them with a 0% pay increase, and reductions in support including in salaries and pensions. They have also failed to address critical gaps, for example in addressing learning disabilities.

We’ve seen countless studies that show education is a vital social determinant for involvement in our justice systems and employment. This is an issue about the future of Manitoba and where we want to see our province heading.

The PCs seem to think they can cut their way out of problems but they are only pushing those issues onto future generations to solve. We need ideas, not cuts.


-30-

Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader
Judy Klassen, MLA for Kewatinook
Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Burrows
Jon Gerrard, MLA for River Heights




Media Contact:
(204) 771 – 2513


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Manitoba Liberals call for immediate action on Meth crisis

Manitoba Liberals are calling for immediate action by the Pallister Government, and the Health Minister in particular, to deal with what is a genuine crisis in methamphetamine addiction that is killing Manitobans, putting people on the frontline at risk, and tearing apart families who are pushed to the breaking point trying to find help for their loved ones. 
 
In the past month, we have heard from people across Manitoba that there is a meth crisis in their community, and that there are not enough provincial resources to deal with it.
 
We heard it from the mother of an addict in Brandon, who told us it is a problem in rural and northern Manitoba, and that it’s impossible to access care. We heard it at the Main Street Project. We hear it from homelessness advocates and health professionals, who say they are seeing people from all walks of life who have lost everything because of their crystal meth addiction.
 
The Pallister government is doing virtually nothing to deal with a problem that is very serious and needs attention now.
 
Windy Sinclair recently froze to death after she left a hospital where she was to be treated for her meth addiction. She was one of many Manitobans struggling with a brutal addiction to a drug that is toxic, cheap, and leads to psychosis in its users, which makes them a danger to themselves and others.
 
What is needed is a safe place for them to go. But virtually no such places exist. Neither the Main Street Project nor hospitals will take them, and Manitoba’s treatment programs are geared toward alcohol detox and 12-step programs – not meth.
 
The need is clear.
 
Manitoba needs an effective plan, to take people from addiction through recovery. When Liberal MLA Dr Jon Gerrard raised these issues with the Pallister government in the last legislative session, his questions were evaded or ignored. (Question Period - October 27, 2017 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwN5JQUWims&feature=youtu.be)
 
We are not going to wait for the Pallister government to develop a plan. This is what is needed:
 
Step 1: There is an urgent need for “Drug Stabilization Units” – spaces where people in meth withdrawal can be held safely. There is a need for about 40 spaces in Winnipeg. These involve a safe place and a private room with locks where people can be assessed, and a treatment plan developed. Patients would stay for 15-30 days. Police or Paramedics could take people straight there.
 
Step 2: There is a need for funding transitional housing with mental health supports in-house – a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health workers and/or a psychiatric nurse who can monitor and administer medication for up to 4 months. Morberg House in St. Boniface is providing these services.  However, additional capacity along the lines of what is delivered at Morberg House, is needed.
 
Step 3: People in recovery can move to their own housing with less intensive support for up to two years.
 
In addition, we need the Province to provide adequate supports so that people seeking treatment can get the care they need when they need it. This can be as simple as funding a psychiatric nurse or nurse practitioner at sites like the Main Street Project.
 
There must also be investments in prevention, including public awareness programs to warn Manitobans about the dangers of meth use. While the focus has been on opioids and the dangers of fatal overdoses from fentanyl and carfentanil, or from impaired driving related to cannabis, the province is silent on the deadly serious problem of meth.
 
To be clear about how serious this all is, we need only to look at the case of Windy Sinclair.
 
The Manitoba Government cannot plead poverty when the Federal Government has increased funding for mental health and for housing, specifically social housing.
 
The costs of inaction – both in lives and in money - far outweigh the potential costs of solving this problem. We have heard that meth addicts run the risk of freezing their feet because they can’t feel them. We have heard that families are being torn apart not just by a loved one’s addiction, but because the costs of private treatment are so great, it is breaking them financially.
 
Every single Manitoban has known someone with an addiction. It touches every family. This government needs to send a message to Manitoba families facing this struggle: You are not alone.
 
The Manitoba government must follow up with meaningful action to ensure that we have a system for treating addiction that is humane and safe.
 
 
Manitoba Liberal Caucus:
Dougald Lamont- Manitoba Liberal Leader
Jon Gerrard – MLA for River Heights
Judy Klassen – MLA for Kewatinook
Cindy Lamoureux – MLA for Burrows

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The wait times for back surgery in Manitoba are far too long

There is a serious problem with wait times for back surgery in Manitoba and it has become much worse over the past year.  Today I tell you the story of one person. This individual has asked to remain anonymous, but I share this today so that there can be more awareness of this problem, and so that this situation can be addressed.

This individual has needed back surgery (fusion for L1 to L5 vertebrae) for more than three years.   He was seen by his own family physician who then referred him to the Pan Am Pain Clinic.  He was finally seen by his surgeon at the Health Sciences Centre, two years later in October of 2016.  The surgeon who saw him at the Health Sciences Centre agreed that he needed surgery.  At that time, he committed verbally that he expected the surgery would occur in 9-12 months.  It is now more than 14 months later and he is still waiting, and there is still no surgery date in sight.

The doctor seems to be able to get operating room time only for trauma patients who present in the Emergency room and even they languish in a hospital bed for weeks before the surgery is done.

The costs to the system over the last seven years have been horrendous.  He has had untold back injections, 4 Rhizotomies, one of which apparently caused a serious infection which required intravenous antibiotics (involving at least six hospital visits to have the Pic Lines inserted, cleared and removed) and twice a week visits to the IV clinic, plus the cost of the antibiotics and untold pain meds, including opioids, and multitudes of doctors' appointments.

In the interim, he has been in almost unremitting pain.  It affects his life, and the lives of those close to him, daily, severely limiting what he and his family can do.  It has been more than 3 years since he has needed a disabled parking permit.  Days of golf using a golf cart and going for walks are two years plus in the past.  All of this is wearing him down.   As he is less fit now that before, there is a concern the surgery could be even more dangerous as a result.  The doctor and his staff are very concerned and frustrated as they have to deal daily with other patients with similar conditions.  They will no longer reply to questions by email.  There are at least five other patients who are at some stage along this sad, frustrating journey, and perhaps many more.  People talk of going elsewhere to get the surgery (BC or the US) without any understanding of the cost or time spans involved.  That idea is not an option for this individual and should not have to be. 

The Minister of Health needs to address this issue urgently.  I have written to him so he is aware of it.  We also need to have the wait times for back surgery publicly reported so that Manitobans can find out easily what the current wait will be.  If you are also waiting, please send me your story as each story can help along this journey to getting this problem addressed. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Private clinics and their charges for essential medical services in Manitoba

Statement by Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader - today
Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen’s claim that he only recently learned that a private clinic in Manitoba is charging $650 so patients can cut to the front of the line for echocardiograms is simply not credible.
Goertzen claimed to have heard in the media about the clinic being at risk of violating the Canada Health Act, but he has continued to defend the clinic, as did his department of health. It is hard to believe that he was unaware, especially given the implied approval he has given to other private services like MRIs.
We want to make our position clear:
Private clinics in Manitoba should not be charging fees so patients can jump the queue for diagnostic tests.
These tests should be available to all Manitobans at public expense, based on medical need - and could be, but the Pallister Government is starving the health care system of funds.
If these private clinics are not willing to provide services based on medical need to all Manitobans, they should be barred from receiving any public funding.
The Pallister Government is wrong to ignore the principles of Canada’s health care system enshrined in the Canada Health Act.
Our health care system is supposed to be based on fundamental principles of fairness, because while anyone can get sick, not everyone can afford the care that will save their life. Letting people jump to the front of the line because they are higher status, more powerful or have more money is not a convenience, it is a form of corruption.
The fact that services are available in other provinces is irrelevant: it is time to stop the continual erosion of those principles.
We need to be clear about the issues here, because Minister Goertzen and the Pallister government have been relentlessly misleading Manitobans on health care on a daily basis for months.
They may say otherwise, but the evidence shows that:
• Letting people pay to cut in line won’t reduce wait times.
• The Federal Government is not cutting Health funding - but should increase their contribution.
• The Pallister Government is cutting health care - they spent $100-million less than promised last year.
• Quality health care costs less than bad health care
• We can afford to, and should invest in better health care
The argument that private spending on health care can reduce the burden on the public system is an admission that we are not spending enough money in the system.
- Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party
Backgrounder
1. The Canada Health Act is the law of the land, and the Pallister Government cannot ignore the law
The Federal government has expressed concern that a private clinic may be violating the principles of the Canada Health Act.
The Canada Health Act exists to ensure that all Canadians have equal access to health care.
In Canada, our system is based on the principle that people will get treatment based on need, and not that they can jump to the front of the line because they are higher status, more powerful or have more money.
It is time to stop the continual erosion of those principles.
While anyone can get sick, not everyone can pay for care.
2. Letting people pay to cut in line won’t improve wait times - because so few people can afford to pay
Dr. Alan Katz, director of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy has said the clinic plan “is not going to shorten wait times. Evidence from around the world has shown that that's not the case.”
There is a simple reason for this. The number of people who can actually afford to pay out of pocket - or who even have private insurance through work - is tiny.
The right-wing, anti-public health care Fraser Institute found that only 50,000-60,000 of Canada’s population of 36-million seek specialist treatment in the U.S. each year.
That is only 0.1% of the population.
The vast majority of Manitobans, including middle-class Manitobans cannot afford these fees, to say nothing of the record number of people living in poverty.
3. The Federal Government *is not* cutting Health funding - but should increase their contribution
The Federal Government is giving Manitoba a 3% increase in health care this year, and into the future. On top of that 3%, the Federal Government offered targeted funds for mental health and kidney disease, which the Pallister government at first refused.
When this change to the funding formula was made under the Harper Conservatives, PCs like Brian Pallister and Kelvin Goertzen were silent. Pallister suggested that Manitoba was flush with tax revenues.
It is true that funding was going up by 6% a year, and that 3% is a lower increase.
Should the Federal Government increase its contribution? Yes.
But it is not true to say that the Federal Government is cutting.
4. The Pallister Government *is* cutting health care.
The PC government is cutting health care - by cutting budgets, firing people and/or “deleting” positions.
The government’s numbers from the 2016-2017 public accounts showed that the Pallister government spent $100-million less than they budgeted.
The specific cuts included:
- Aboriginal and Northern Health Office: Cut by $1.19-million
- Addictions Policy and Support: Cut by $1.46-million
Funding to Health Authorities:
- Acute Care Services - Cut by $12.13-million
- Long Term Care Services - Cut by $6.4-million
- Home Care Services - $2.17-million
- Community and Mental Health Services - $15.9-million
- Emergency Response and Transport Services - $12.5-million
5. Quality health care costs less than bad health care
Getting things right once means you don’t spend time and money fixing mistakes - and this is especially true in health care.
The Mayo Clinic in the U.S. is world-famous for the quality of its care - but it is in the bottom 15% in terms of costs.
Manitoba can afford a better health care system - and while an excellent health care system takes effort and work to set up, it makes everyone better off in the long run - including the people paying for it.
6. We can afford a better public health system
The Pallister government keeps using the word “unsustainable” and fearmongering about the province’s finances to justify cuts to health care.
The main reason that governments are facing financial troubles is not overspending. It is because they have been cutting taxes for years.
Between 1999 and 2008, the Manitoba NDP cut $1-billion in taxes. If taxes were returned to what they were under the PCs in 1999, Manitoba would have no deficit.
The Federal government has shrunk to its smallest size since the 1930s.
The Corporate tax was cut from 30% to 15%, the small business tax was reduced to 9%, and personal income taxes at all levels and the GST were all reduced.
For decades, we have been told that if we cut taxes, governments will get more revenue because people who have been avoiding taxes will, all of a sudden, start paying them.
Instead we’ve seen rampant tax avoidance and tens of billions of dollars flowing out of Canada into tax havens, while governments cut services.
Our problem is not that governments are bankrupt and can’t pay their bills, but that they are deadbeats and won’t.
Governments need to pay their bills, and everyone needs to pay their fair share of taxes.