NDP focus on health care over first five days of provincial election campaign

Health care has been the major focus of the Manitoba NDP’s provincial election campaign since it officially got underway Aug. 12.

Party leader Wab Kinew said on Monday that an NDP government would reopen emergency rooms at Concordia Hospital and Seven Oaks that closed in June and July respectively.

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“[Progressive Conservative leader Brian] Pallister’s rushed and reckless ER closures are a symbol of the bad choices he has made – choices that reveal how out of touch he is with the priorities of everyday families,” Kinew said in a press release.

He followed up the next day by saying an NDP government would hire more nurses, beginning in critical areas first, and train more every year by adding 75 nurse –training seats in the province, saying that the PC government had reduced the number of nurses in the province by 500 since 2017.

Wednesday’s promise was to provide two hours of free parking at all hospitals in Manitoba to reduce the financial burden of illness, particularly for those with disabilities and chronic conditions and their families.

“Going to the hospital, whether you area patient or visiting a friend or family member, is often stressful,” said Kinew. “Paying for parking only adds to that stress. And for some people, the cost of parking is prohibitive.”

Health care promises continued on Thursday with an announcement that, if elected, the NDP would build an 80-bed expansion to the Park Manor personal care home (PCH) in Transcona at a cost of $21.3 million.

“Brian Pallister has not started and finished a single PCH bed, after telling Manitobans something different during the 2016 election campaign,” Kinew said. “It’s just one more broken health-care promise from Pallister.”

Kinew broke away from the health-care theme on Friday to announce a $1,000 land-transfer tax reduction for first-time homebuyers and people with disabilities. For an average home in Winnipeg with a selling price of $310,000, this would be a 25 per cent reduction of an estimated land-transfer tax of nearly $4,000. The NDP estimate the reduction would benefit about 8,000 people and cost the government about $8 million per year, based on data from the Canada Revenue Agency.

“We want to help young people build a future here, and that’s what this commitment is all about,” said Kinew. “Brian Pallister has made your life more expensive, on everything from hydro bills to tuition to auto insurance. But we have different priorities. We will help keep life affordable.”

In addition to touting what they would do as government, the NDP has also been critical of the record of the PC government since 2016, noting that they closed three emergency rooms and seven clinics in Winnipeg, fired nurses and cut programs like outpatient physiotherapy. The NDP has also filed a complaint with the elections commissioner about Pallister possibly violating the Election Financing Act by featuring the premier’s office in a partisan election video advertisement.

Manitobans elect the next government Sept. 10.

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