Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals released the top priorities they would like to see in the PCs provincial budget tomorrow - cutting wait times for Health Care, Independence for Seniors, Education that focuses on supporting students in need, Affordable Housing, and Reconciliation with Indigenous Communities.
"For six years, the PCs have undermined the basic services that Manitobans depend on, and when it comes to actually delivering on their budgets, they have never walked the talk," said Dougald Lamont, MLA for St Boniface, and Manitoba Liberal Leader. "As Manitobans, we need to go beyond shoring up collapsing systems and making sure they are tough enough to deal with this crisis and the next."
To fix Health Care, the PCs need to immediately:
Create a plan to restore Manitoba's capacity to care for its own in the public health system within 12 months, including:
Lift the cap on the number of hip and knee replacements and eye surgeries that can be performed in a given year so that surgical teams in Manitoba can address the backlog
Manitobans who need surgeries and procedures during the 12-month rebuilding period should be offered the option of travelling to other provinces or the United States for care as a last-ditch measure. This must include a "health equity fund" that will cover costs of travel for patients and family members who cannot otherwise afford to travel.
Improve working conditions for nurses by settling non-salary demands, and ending mandatory overtime to help fill health care vacancies
Require honesty in reporting on Wait Times - from finding a problem to treatment, not from scheduling a procedure to treatment, which ignores months or years of waiting to see a specialist
Seniors have long been neglected, and Manitoba Liberals have been calling for a non-partisan Seniors Advocate since 2016. They are also calling for:
A mincome supplement for Manitoba Seniors aged 60-65
Funding for an "Aging-in-Place" Strategy to allow seniors to live at home as long as possible
Manitoba's Colleges, Universities and Polytechnics are essential to attracting new Manitobans, and training workers to fill jobs. After the Bill 64 fiasco, it's essential for the government to develop a plan to address the performance shortfalls for the 20% of students who struggle because their families lived in poverty.
Manitoba Liberals are calling for:
A universal school nutrition program
Investments in ventilation and green efficiency upgrades
Health coverage for international students must be restored. Cancelling it has made Manitoba less attractive as a destination for future immigrants.
Working in partnership with post-secondary institutions on a plan to attract and retain faculty, while investing in research, to attract and train students and graduates.
Extending the grace-period on provincial student loan repayments from 6 months to 2 years, or once the student has an income over $40,000/ year; and,
Working with the Federal Government to increase post-secondary transfers to the province
Affordable Housing & Poverty
Manitoba Liberals say the government needs to strengthen and enforce Manitoba's rent regulations, which are making it impossible for many Manitobans to keep a roof over their heads.
Reform EIA, increase supports and allow people to earn more to lift themselves out of poverty
Action on supports for people with disabilities and their caregivers
There must be a commitment to working in partnership with First Nations, and especially to sharing resource revenue. The province needs to address the discrimination that Indigenous Manitobans face in provincial systems - health, education and justice.
Lamont also warned that the PCs need to guard against undue optimism.
"Manitoba's unemployment rate is going up, and Canada as a whole is facing challenges as the housing market cools," said Lamont. "The PCs keep telling Manitobans 'you're on your own' - and for once it would be good to know that the government has our backs."