Earlier this month, Heather Stefanson became the new leader of the Progressive Conservative party and our new premier of Manitoba. Unfortunately for all of us, this change does not mean that her policies will be very different from her predecessor, Brian Pallister. The signs are already evident – even as COVID cases and hospitalizations are steadily increasing, surgeries are once again being cancelled, and a University of Manitoba Faculty Association strike has been going on for weeks, Premier Stefanson remains missing in action.
She decided on a short legislative session of only eight days and then a break until March 2022, so it will be difficult to get real work done and hold the government to account in the legislature. Rather than getting to work for the benefit of Manitobans, Premier Stefanson is focused on the ongoing legal challenge surrounding the chaotic Conservative leadership race.
Meanwhile, Flin Flon and other communities in the north are once again being neglected by this government. Some of our communities are dealing with the largest COVID outbreaks since the beginning of the pandemic, yet the PC government refuses to provide the resources and support communities need to stop the spread and keep people safe. Existing problems like overcrowded housing and limited access to medical care in their own communities is putting people at higher risk of exposure to COVID and community leaders have asked again and again for tangible support, but to no avail. I have also reached out to our last two premiers to urge them to take action, but never received a response. So far, there is no indication that Premier Stefanson will be any different than her predecessors.
I have also contacted the current and former health ministers to call on them to make health care more accessible in the north and at the same time ensure that those individuals who need to travel to Winnipeg for medical care are able to do so in a timely manner. Calm Air has reduced its flights and services during the pandemic and so far the government has made no effort to make travel more accessible and affordable for Manitobans whose only option it is to travel south to receive the care they need. This is unacceptable in the best of times, but during a global pandemic, there is no excuse for a health minister to ignore the needs of Manitobans in the north.
While the PC government has been neglecting the needs of our northern and Indigenous communities, I will not stop fighting for the rights of my constituents. Please do not hesitate to contact my office at 204-687-3246 or Tom.Lindsey@yourmanitoba.ca and let me know about your challenges and questions during this time.