Expanded suicide prevention programs in Northern Manitoba and an accelerated East Side Road Authority construction schedule are among the promises announced by the NDP as the calendar turned to April and the provincial election draws nearer.
A re-elected NDP government, the party said April 1, would expand the Telehealth program and add two more staff to the Northern Regional Health Authority’s mobile crisis team. The NDP would also provide $400,000 of funding to the First Nations caring Society Touchstones of Hope program, develop an emergency response plan to help high-risk communities when suicides occur, and spend at least $10 million on expanding recreation programs in Northern Manitoba, as well as double funding for the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre North (WASAC North), which provides programming and summer jobs in communities including Shamattawa and Lac Brochet.
“I’ve seen firsthand the damage suicide can do to families and communities,” said Fort Rouge NDP candidate Wab Kinew in a press release. “That’s why I know how critical it is for the NDP to help young people create hope and opportunities for themselves through these game-changing investments.”
The NDP would also increase the Manitoba Prenatal Benefit maximum rate to $162 per month and extend it to more families, including those in all of the province’s indigenous communities.
“The NDP will give northern communities the immediate help they need, while also giving young people more opportunities going forward,” said Kinew.
Also announced April 1 was accelerated construction for the East Side Road Authority (ESRA) al-weather road network to improve transportation options for 34,000 indigenous Manitobans in 13 isolated communities. The NDP would spend $95 million annually for four years to support ESRA road construction, which has received about $350 million since the ESRA was established in 2009.
“East Side residents living in remote communities are forced to rely on temporary winter roads and air transportation for all of their supplies and to access the services that other Manitobans take for granted,” Keewatinook NDP candida Eric Robinson said. “Only the NDP will build the East Side road network, a huge opportunity to reduce transportation costs for goods, improve access to health care and create jobs and economic opportunities for local people.”
The NDP would also negotiate with Norway House Cree Nation to speed up work on an east-west all-weather road.
The ESRA has overseen the relocation of 600 kilometres of winter road routes from ice to land and the installation of bridges to extend the winter road season and begin to lay the foundation for all-weather roads. The work has created more than 1,000 person-years of work and training to 325 people from the region the road network will service, the NDP says.
Other recent announcements by the NDP include plans to help up to 1,500 more apprentices get apprenticeship training, a proposal to require each hospital and regional health authority to employ a patient advocate to help people access health care services, and bringing yurts to Paint Lake Provincial Park and other provincial parks.