2018 not a good year for the north but perhaps 2019 could be the start of a better future

As we move into the year 2019, I want to reflect on what we’ve seen from the government of Brian Pallister and the Progressive Conservative party. Unfortunately, 2018 was not a good year to be a working person, a senior, a student, a poor person, sick or an expectant mother, particularly if you happen to be living in Northern Manitoba.

Healthcare in the north has been an ongoing issue here as we have seen cuts to the budgets of the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA). Access to healthcare should be a universal right of all citizens regardless of where you live, but that is not the case as cuts to Northern Patient Transfer Program (NPTP) have made it decidedly more expensive and harder for us to get to the care we deserve. This will no doubt become an even bigger issue going into the new year.

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It is unfortunate that the North seems to be such an afterthought to this government with its Look North plan, which seems to be only a plan to have a plan. We need to see firm commitments from this government of northern issues It was only the NDP who stood up for Churchill in its time of need. We filed a complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency which ruled that OmniTrax had to fix the line. The federal Liberals dropped their lawsuit while the provincial government stayed silent as did the Liberal MLA for that constituency.

We have seen massive job losses in Thompson and Flin Flon is next. I have been quite vocal in asking this government to do something, even if it is only releasing funds from the Mining Communities Reserve Fund to assist these communities in their time of need. It is interesting to note the PC MLA from Thompson has remained largely silent on these issues.

Roads are a big issue throughout the constituency and only after repeated requests from both the Town of Snow Lake and myself has there been a commitment to address some of the concerns coming from that area. I will continue to advocate for proper road maintenance in all areas of the constituency. If tourism is the only answer this government has for the North then decent roads are critical as is other infrastructure such as cell service and internet access.

This governments continued austerity measures and privatization will be more bad news for us in the North. An editorial in a southern newspaper said something to the effect that no one has noticed less people working in government departments. Well, I can tell you folks in the North have noticed when they do not get their paycheques or when their calls to Manitoba Housing get no response.

There are so many other issues we face in the North that space doesn’t permit me to list them all.

I have been actively meeting with the CEO of the NRHA to voice our concerns and also to offer suggestions. I have met with officials from Hudbay and the unions to discuss the impending closure of mining operations in Flin Flon. It is my sincere hope the in 2019 we can collectively work to solve some of the issues we face and to build a better future for all of our communities. I look forward to getting to other communities in the constituency again throughout the year to hear your concerns.

Tom Lindsey is the NDP MLA for the Flin Flon electoral division.

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