For two weeks in October, the Legislative Assembly met for a brief session and I want to highlight some of the things that happened and important issues going on right now.
One of the best moments during the last session was when the PC government formally withdrew five harmful bills, including Bill 64. When they did so, our caucus erupted into applause. This applause was a culmination of months of activism undertaken by Flin Flon constituents and Manitobans across the province. On behalf of the Manitoba NDP, I am so thankful for your efforts. It was democracy in action.
Even though Brian Pallister and some of his controversial bills are gone, the fight against his harmful agenda will continue. On October 30, the PC party members will choose a new leader who will become premier. It will either be Shelly Glover or Heather Stefanson, two shades of the same blue. Neither of these candidates has distinguished themselves from the Pallister legacy, meaning we will have to continue to challenge them on their harmful legislation and cuts to health care.
Over the two weeks of session in October, the Manitoba NDP and I kept fighting for Manitobans. We voted against Brian Pallister’s budget that the PC government still supported, including Heather Stefanson, which cut funding for health care and other government services. We called the PC government out about their failure to address the surgical backlog and the overall state of our province’s health care system. In March 2021, the PC government announced $50 million to clear the surgical backlog, but documents obtained show that, as of August, the PC government had only spent $2.4 million, less than five per cent. Meanwhile, the number of Manitobans waiting for tests and surgeries has reached 130,000. Manitobans continue to live with pain and uncertainty every day because the PCs refuse to spend the money on surgeries.
I also challenged the government to finally make the life-saving and extremely effective drug Trikafta available for sufferers of cystic fibrosis, a rare genetic disease that is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. On Oct. 22, Manitoba finally announced that they would list Trikafta on our province’s drug formulary, weeks after most other Canadian provinces had already done so.
Another issue that the NDP challenged the government on is the fact that Manitoban drivers lost out on hundreds of dollars in rebates from MPI after the PC government approved a plan to divert $113 million in excess Autopac revenue to cover driver and vehicle licencing costs. This is money that should have been given back to Manitobans but rather, the PC government believes taking away money from everyday Manitobans during a global pandemic is the right thing to do.
Rest assured, my NDP colleagues and I will keep pushing this government to provide the services northern Manitobans deserve and hold them to account on their harmful agenda of cuts.
Please contact my office at 204-687-3246 or Tom.Lindsey@yourmanitoba.ca.