As 2020 has come to an end and we look to 2021, our thoughts move to vaccines and the crucial role they play in an economic recovery for Thompson and the north. A fast and effective provincial vaccination campaign, as well as a strong commitment from northerners to get vaccinated is so important – without it our seniors will not be safe, our small businesses will not be able to reopen and our health care system will continue to be overwhelmed.
As your MLA I encourage all of you to get the vaccine once you are eligible for it. I know that my family and I will be ready to receive it once we are deemed eligible by Public Health. We have seen the benefit from vaccines and the ability to eliminate diseases that once were very harmful, such as polio and smallpox for example. Now is the time we need to listen the science – Health Canada is only approving vaccines that have been shown to work, which includes the COVID-19 vaccine.
Of course, that might not be for some time. First and foremost those who are most vulnerable to the virus and those who are most needed in our pandemic response should have quick and efficient access to the vaccine. That means our front-line doctors, nurses, healthcare aides, EMS workers and workers in long-term care homes must get the vaccine as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, just as they were for the second wave of the virus, the Pallister government seems to be behind the eight ball on a vaccination plan. So far their rollout has been slow, confusing and chaotic. They’ve fallen well behind even their own goals for number of doses administered in January. They closed clinics for several days in December, delaying the vaccination of front-line health care workers. They even threw out doses due to booking issues – wasting precious vaccine resources.
The premier, who has intentionally caused concern among First Nation communities with comments about vaccine availability, must do more to ensure northern Indigenous Manitobans get the vaccine as quickly as possible. Chronic underfunding to First Nation communities, combined with drastic cuts to provincial health care has left Indigenous families more vulnerable to COVID-19. Distributing the vaccine to these isolated communities must be a key priority, and I applaud steps local leadership and First Nation health experts have taken to make a plan that works for isolated First Nation communities. Indigenous families deserve a government that puts their health and safety ahead of political fearmongering.
I would urge our premier and his caucus to stop trying to make vaccines a political issue. We are all Manitobans and the Progressive Conservatives need to stop pitting Manitobans against one another. This is the time to show leadership and be on Team Manitoba because we are all in this together.