Pallister pens personal note for $200 cheques

The premier's plan to write a thank-you letter to Manitoba seniors to accompany their $200 COVID-19 cheques is being panned as a shallow political ploy rather than an appreciative gesture.

Read this article for free:

or

Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$1.50 for 150 days*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles
Continue

*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/05/2020 (867 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The premier’s plan to write a thank-you letter to Manitoba seniors to accompany their $200 COVID-19 cheques is being panned as a shallow political ploy rather than an appreciative gesture.

Premier Brian Pallister announced May 5 that $200 cheques would be mailed out to an estimated 225,000 Manitobans age 65 and older, regardless of income.

With just 14 per cent of Manitoba seniors living below the poverty line, critics questioned whether the $45-million Seniors Economic Recovery Credit was meant to curry favour with voters rather than its stated intent, to help seniors facing increased costs during the pandemic. The Free Press asked Pallister’s communications staff at the time if the premier would put his name on a letter or note accompanying the cheques and did not receive a reply.

On Friday, he told the Canadian Press that’s his plan.

”I’m going to send a letter with (the cheques) to thank and congratulate our seniors, and I’ll probably sign that, darn right,” Pallister said. ”Six months into a newly elected government with a strong mandate, we’re making a decision to try to show support, affection — quite frankly — and respect for our seniors.”

The issue isn’t whether seniors are appreciated, said Todd MacKay, Prairie director of the Canadian Taxpayers Association

“If you’re helping people, you need to make sure that the right help is going to the right people. And firing cheques everywhere is pretty lazy policy.”

An advocate for low- and fixed-income adults and seniors suffering financially due to COVID-19 said it’s a missed opportunity to really help those in need.

“Manitoba could have provided income-tested benefits through Employment and Income Assistance, Rent Assist, the 55-plus program or enhancements to pharmacare,” said Molly McCracken, Manitoba director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“Instead the province is providing $200 per senior, regardless of need,” McCracken said. “The inclusion of a letter from the premier with this cheque shows this government is choosing to play politics with this misallocated benefit, which should be income tested.”

MacKay said Manitobans have to ask who benefits from the signed letter: taxpayers or the premier.

“You’ve got to apply the sniff test in a situation like this, and I think you kind of detect a little bit of an odour there,” he said.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS "This payment will provide seniors with some of the additional support they need during this very, very challenging time," Premier Brian Pallister said.

“This money is coming from taxpayers; it’s not coming from the premier,” said MacKay.

The Opposition took aim at the premier for taking credit for handing out goodies but not for layoff notices to public-sector workers.

“If Mr. Pallister is going to send out this letter and sign it, I think he should also sign all the layoff notices that he’s sending out to Hydro workers and educational assistants and people across Manitoba,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

“Anyone looking at this from a mile away can tell that it is political,” he said of the premier’s gesture.

“Mr. Pallister wants to take responsibility for one thing, yet he refuses to take responsibility for all the people he’s putting out of work. He should sign the layoff notices too, if he wants to sign this letter.”

“Not only is Pallister going to send himself a $200 cheque, he is going to use public money to send a letter thanking himself.” – Dougald Lamont

The premier, who is 65, will be sending a thank-you letter to himself, Manitoba’s Liberal leader noted.

“Not only is Pallister going to send himself a $200 cheque, he is going to use public money to send a letter thanking himself,” Dougald Lamont said Friday.

“If he wants to send personal letters on the public dime, Pallister can start by writing a personal letter of apology to the thousands of Manitobans who are losing their jobs and businesses because he is more interested in promoting himself than lifting a finger to help.”

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Report Error Submit a Tip