Treaty 1 Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberal MLAs have written a letter to Premier Stefanson, Ministers, and Public Health Officials asking the PCs to ensure they can make schools safe for the return to school on January 17.
The letter asks whether the PCs are willing and able to deliver on measures that frontline workers, teachers and parents have been calling for to ensure that when Manitoba students go back to school or child care, infections are kept to a minimum.
- Prioritizing booster vaccinations for workers who need them most
- Prioritizing rapid testing for schools, seniors homes and ELCC centres
- Improving ventilation, including using portable filtration units
- Properly fitting N95 masks for children as well as employees
- "Covid Pay for Covid Days" so people can stay home and isolate, including with children
"We continue to receive endless e-mails from concerned teachers, parents and students who want to make sure that schools will be as safe as possible for everyone when we go back. Our schools and education system deserve action that the government has a responsibility to provide," said Cindy Lamoureux, Manitoba Liberal Education Critic and MLA for Tyndall Park. "Many people don't want schools to close, but they also don't want to send their kids to school if it's not safe enough. Safety always comes first."
The letter, written after consultation with physicians and public health experts, also asks whether the PCs are abandoning the central tenet of public health, infection prevention, and operating on wishful thinking that the highly infectious Omicron virus is less severe.
On January 4, Premier Stefanson and Dr. Jazz Atwal both asserted that the omicron variant is supposed to be "milder," with Stefanson adding it may have no symptoms at all.
"It looks to us like the PCs are considering just letting the Omicron virus rip through the population, and if that's the case, Manitobans deserve to know that," said Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface. "We know Omicron is incredibly infectious, that it is putting people in already overloaded hospitals and ICUs. The idea that not as many people may get really sick or worse is more than made up for in the sheer volume of cases."
"There are good reasons for hope, and the most hopeful thing we have seen is just how effective vaccines have been against protecting people from the worst of a tough and ever-changing virus," said Dr. Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal Health Critic and MLA for River Heights. "The vast majority of Manitobans are vaccinated, yet tragically the majority of people being hospitalized for covid are unvaccinated. Shots and boosters save lives and will keep you out of hospital."