MLA Report - May 3, 2021

Paid sick leave, better vaccination policies could have lessened third wave impact

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” is a famous quote many people are familiar with, but apparently not Premier Brian Pallister or his government. Before Manitoba was hit with the deadliest second wave in the country, there were many signs that it was coming. Rising case numbers and test positivity, increased intensive care unit (ICU) numbers and hospitalizations and an inability to effectively trace how people contracted COVID were all signs that Manitoba was on the cusp of a second wave. Despite these clear signs and warnings from public health officials, the premier sat back and watched as the second wave crashed onto our province. The result was devastating. Our personal care homes experienced the worst, with 56 people passing away at the Maples Personal Care Home, which the former minister of health called “unavoidable.” 

The Pallister government could have learned from the first wave that other provinces experienced by bolstering our health care system, improving staffing at personal care homes, and implementing paid sick leave. Unfortunately, they didn’t and Manitoba subsequently had the worst COVID fatality rate in the country during the second wave. 

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And when the worst of the second wave was over, you would think the Pallister government would learn from their mistakes and take action to prevent another wave. Unfortunately, yet again we are seeing this government act too late.

Manitoba’s case numbers, including more and more variant cases, ICU numbers, hospitalizations, and test positivity rates rose before the government took action, even as public health officials warned that the third wave was already here. Now that the government has finally implemented further restrictions, the premier is again falsely claiming – just like he did after the second wave – that his government acted proactively and did all they could to prevent a third wave. 

One of the key actions that should have been taken to reduce the impact of the third wave was to implement a paid sick leave. Too many workers in our province have to choose between putting food on the table or staying home when sick, which has caused COVID-19 to flourish at many workplaces. This is an impossible dilemma they are forcing people to undergo. The government should implement paid sick leave now to ensure that people who are sick stay home and keep the virus from spreading unchecked. 

There have also been issues with the vaccine rollout. While everyone over 18 in the north is now able to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, it’s taken too long to get to this point. As well, there are many groups and individuals that have not been included. Early childhood educators, teachers and support workers for people with disabilities are just some of the people not included in the rest of the province. 

If you’re concerned about the Pallister government’s botched pandemic response, or if you have any other questions, comments or concerns please reach out to me at Danielle.adams@yourmanitoba.ca or by calling me at 204-677-2744. 

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