OTTAWA — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has brushed off those taking potshots at his handling of COVID-19. Yet, among those critics is his successor to the federal riding of Portage-Lisgar, MP Candice Bergen.
In a Friday statement, Bergen decried "provinces like Manitoba making decisions in a panic, which have drastic consequences and negative impacts on the lives of Manitobans."
The next day, Pallister insisted his government was doing anything but panicking.
"What we don’t need to do is panic. Panic is not a plan. Panic is a recipe for defeat in sport, for bankruptcy in business and for death in the midst of COVID," the premier told PC faithful during the party’s virtual convention Saturday.
The next day, he was seen taking aim at CBC host Rosemary Barton in an interview for arguing the province’s COVID-19 plan had failed to prevent deaths, saying the journalist had not proposed any alternatives.
"There's always room for hindsight (but) we won't be starting with Monday morning quarterbacking for a while," the premier said in the interview, which was filmed Friday and aired Sunday.
However, Bergen said the Manitoba government has not provided the public with sufficient data to justify closing businesses and restricting civil liberties.
"There needs to be an evaluation if the measures taken to stop the spread of the virus have more or less benefit than the negative societal impacts of job losses, undiagnosed medical conditions, loved ones dying in hospitals with no one by their side, families being separated across borders, mental health and addiction issues that have arisen from lockdown and encroachment on our civil liberties," wrote Bergen, who is the Conservatives’ deputy leader.
"There needs to be publicly available, and comprehensive data on COVID-19 to judge the appropriateness of the policy," wrote Bergen, who took over the federal riding, a Conservative stronghold, from Pallister in 2008.
Manitoba has lagged behind other provinces in the speed and detail of data it releases. For example, its weekly epidemiology report does not state the average number of contacts each person with COVID-19 has reported to public-health nurses.
Pallister revealed in the CBC interview that this number had dropped by 25 per cent, the first time any such change had ever been reported.
Manitoba’s chief public-health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, confirmed that statistic Monday, saying the average number of contacts was seven "about three or four weeks ago" but now stands around five or even four.