Manitoba's Covid-19 outbreak is bad and growing worse. We have had hundreds of doctors pleading with the government to change course. We have been told by medical experts that we are seeing exponential growth in cases, and by experts in emergency management that unless we act now we will never catch up.
We want to make it clear: we have the time and resources to change the path we are on and get through this. But not on the path we are on now.
We are calling on the Manitoba Government to depoliticize the emergency response to the Pandemic. The Health Minister and Premier must have the humility to recognize they are out of their depth and hand over the pandemic response to independent and medical and emergency experts, and give them the resources they need to get the job done. The Premier's and Health Ministers jobs should be limited to signing cheques.
I have spoken with Minister Dan Vandal and other federal government representatives. They are waiting to be called on: the military can be mobilized only if the provincial government asks.
There are a number of actions the Federal government can and must take unilaterally in order to shift the trajectory of this pandemic and save lives, whether the provincial government is willing to participate or not.
Manitoba is facing this catastrophic outbreak for two reasons: a complete failure on planning and prevention, including political interference with emergency response and public health, and an ideological refusal to help businesses and workers.
The first is killing people, the second will kill the economy.
We are calling for the Manitoba Government to hand over its pandemic response to non-political experts in public health and emergency pandemic response.
Manitoba needs a hard lockdown but that will only be possible if workers and businesses can survive. We need "Code Red" supports now.
To force the province to deal with the crisis, we need Federal Regulation to:
Mandate every resident with COVID to be isolated in a single room, and all close contacts be isolated in a single room. If this needs moving some residents and staff to hotels then that should be done.
Mandate testing of all residents and staff whenever a case is found in the home and twice a week until all are negative for a month.
Create New Emergency Income Supports, so that anyone who has to self-isolate can pay their bills. Manitoba has the highest number of people (53%) within $200 a month of insolvency. Our Employment Income Assistance, (EIA) rates, or provincial welfare, are the same as they were in 1986. The Federal Government has the authority to make direct payments to individuals. That needs to happen, especially coverage for people with disabilities.
Create New Emergency Overhead Business Supports - Winnipeg has one of the highest rates of businesses who are losing money for every day they stay open. We need a fund that helps cover lost revenue, and overhead, not wages, and it needs to be grants, not loans. Run it through the Business Development Bank of Canada in order to bypass provincial governments, and ensure that not-for-profits and other community organizations, like Legions, cultural and other institutions are eligible as well.
Create a Worker's Legal Defence Fund, so that people who speak up and tell the truth have their incomes protected and can defend themselves against retribution from health authorities or governments. This can be established through the existing Courts Challenges program. Many people - including doctors, nurses and teachers - are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs.