Funding health-care services returns to legislature spotlight
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One year to the day before the next provincial election is due, the Progressive Conservative government and NDP squared off on how to pay for essential health-care services.
The province, not private donors, should be paying for essential public health care, such as expanding the St. Boniface Hospital emergency department, NDP Leader Wab Kinew said during question period Monday.
Kinew produced a letter from the St. B Hospital Foundation sent to some Winnipeg homes asking for a donation to help pay for the $141-million expansion currently under construction.
The letter features testimony of a nurse who works in the ER inviting donors to help fund the project that will triple the current size of the space.
The nurse describes the problems with the old emergency department and why the expansion is desperately needed. She asks donors to “be at the heart of our transformed emergency department.”
“Will the premier stop asking for donations for things they should be paying for?” Kinew asked Monday in the house.
In turn, Premier Heather Stefanson defended asking private donors for such help.
“Philanthropy is alive and well,” Stefanson said, adding her government will work closely with philanthropists to “get things done.”
Stefanson asked the NDP leader if he planned to cancel hospital foundations like the one supporting the ER expansion at at St. B, should the election go his way.
“These community contributions have been the backbone of our system for years,” the premier said. “The question is, what’s his plan?”
The NDP have been ahead of the PCs in successive recent Probe Research Inc. polls. The next election is due on or before Oct. 3, 2023.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont also criticized the PC government for relying on charitable foundations to help pay for core public health-care services.
“Lots of people are getting tax breaks from these foundations instead of paying taxes,” the member for St. Boniface said in a scrum with reporters.
“It’s much more efficient and direct to tax people and put their money into the project than it is to be expecting private individuals to be coming up with it.”
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.