Danielle Adams became Thompson MLA when she took the oath of office in Winnipeg Sept. 27 and was subsequently named the Manitoba NDP’s critic for childcare, housing, disability and poverty matters by party leader Wab Kinew, who highlighted the party’s diversity, with six women, five Indigenous people, two queer people and nine people of colour among the party’s 17 MLAs.
“Our new team is proud to look like Manitoba, and we plan to use every tool at our disposal to hold the [Premier Brian] Pallister government to account,” said Kinew in a press release announcing the critic roles. “We will continue to oppose Pallister’s health care crisis, which has caused chaos for patients and health care workers. We will fight back against his plan to make deep cuts to education, which will hurt students and teachers. And we will do our part to help solve the climate crisis while keeping life affordable for families.”
Adams spoke out as a critic for the first time Oct. 2, when she criticized the Progressive Conservative government for providing fewer children (1,429) with inclusion support program funding in 2019 (1,471). The inclusion support program pays for aides in child care centres and family child care homes to assist children with exceptional needs.
“All children should have equal access to quality child care, no matter their abilities,” said Adams in a press release. “The Pallister government has a moral and legal responsibility to properly fund kids with exceptional needs, yet we are seeing less and less families get the support they need. We know the number of children diagnosed with disabilities or cognitive-development issues is increasing, so it doesn’t make sense for the province to be funding fewer children. The minister must be transparent with families—is she intentionally interpreting the policy differently in order to spend less supporting children?”
Another rookie NDP MLA, Ian Bushie (Keewatinook), the party’s Indigenous affairs critic, attacked the government Oct. 2 for underfunding the Northern Healthy Foods Initiative by $659,000 in 2018/19.
“Access to healthy foods is an important part of improving health outcomes for northern families,” said Bushie. “By underfunding this initiative, the Pallister government is increasing the risk of higher diabetes rates, obesity and heart disease in our northern communities. That will hurt health care for all Manitobans in the future.”
The Northern Healthy Foods Initiative supports the Affordable Food in Remote Manitoba (AFFIRM) program, which subsidizes the cost of milk and fresh fruits and vegetables in eligible communities. Bushie sad he fears a review of the Northern Health Foods Initiative could mean funding cuts.
“I know many northern families rely on the subsidies and programs that the Northern Health Foods Initiative supports,” said Bushie. “If Pallister was really committed to the North he would immediately cancel this review and fully fund the program so families can get the healthy food they deserve.”