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Opinion

Editorial cartoon for June 2, 2023

Shipping out surgeries a short-term solution

Editorial 4 minute read Preview

Shipping out surgeries a short-term solution

Editorial 4 minute read 4:00 AM CDT

“Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes… ”

The singing game with those particular lyrics has been around since at least 1961, and it’s often described as a great way for children to learn about their own body parts. (If you’re not familiar with it, any two-year-old in your extended family can probably direct you to the correct Cocomelon episode and the almost-instant earworm it will create.)

But in Manitoba, there’s a new version, and it might more accurately be sung as, “Hips, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes” — because surgeries on all those parts can now be done out of province at the taxpayers’ expense.

Foot surgery, along with those for ankles and shoulders, are the latest to be added to hip and knee surgery in the list of procedures that can be done at approved sites in other Canadian provinces and at select U.S. medical facilities in North Dakota, Ohio and even California.

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4:00 AM CDT

M. Spencer Green / AP Files

Knee replacements can be life-changing for patients in constant pain.

Task force pronouncements of little value to Manitobans waiting for health care

Tom Brodbeck 4 minute read Preview

Task force pronouncements of little value to Manitobans waiting for health care

Tom Brodbeck 4 minute read Yesterday at 5:45 PM CDT

The Stefanson government’s wait time task force says it has significantly reduced or eliminated backlogs for medical procedures. However, the province still refuses to release supporting data to substantiate those claims.

Officials from the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force provided one of its regular “updates” Wednesday at Victoria General Hospital. They claim hospitals have eliminated or significantly reduced backlogs for 36 procedures that were created during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What they haven’t done is provided the public with any details around most of those procedures, including wait times, the volume of patients on wait lists or the number of cases completed by month. Without that information, it’s impossible to estimate whether backlogs have been reduced or eliminated. If they have that information, they’re not making it public.

Task force officials say they have eliminated or reduced backlogs by 40 per cent or more for procedures such as pediatric surgery, oral surgery, neurosurgery and echocardiography. But without supporting data or more detail, those figures are essentially meaningless.

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Yesterday at 5:45 PM CDT

Dr. Ed Buchel, surgical lead on the wait time task force steering committee, speaks to media in April. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The evidence says we need fewer cars

Michel Durand-Wood 5 minute read Preview

The evidence says we need fewer cars

Michel Durand-Wood 5 minute read 2:00 AM CDT

RAY Kohanik puts forward in the May 29 edition (It’s time to make better transportation decisions) that our city missed out by not building freeways in the 1970s, and that we should do it now. He supports this idea with arguments that might instinctively “feel” right, but that are entirely refuted by the city’s own data.

I understand why Kohanik, or anyone else for that matter, might hold these views. It has been the predominant narrative around transportation in North America since the Second World War that the continual prioritization of car travel, at the expense of nearly everything else, is the key to economic prosperity and a higher quality of life for all. I used to hold these views. After all, it’s all we’ve ever been told since before many of our parents (or grandparents!) were even born. But despite this continent-wide, decades-long experiment in car-oriented transportation, we now have the benefit of hindsight and data. Loads and loads of data. So rather than make major infrastructure decisions based on what “feels” right, most Winnipeggers would agree that we should make evidenced-based decisions instead.

On the economic side, it’s important to understand that while cars can be extremely useful, a transportation system built around everyone using one every time for every trip is prohibitively expensive. Simply maintaining the 8,300 lane-km of roads that city reports tell us we already own would require an extra $600 million per year. Every year.

To get it, we’d need to eliminate the entire police department, the entire fire and paramedic department, and the entire Community Services department (the one in charge of pools, libraries and rec centres). Or we could double our property taxes.

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2:00 AM CDT

Supplied

Artist’s conception of Route 90 expansion at Tuxedo Avenue, Winnipeg

Letters, June 2

6 minute read Preview

Letters, June 2

6 minute read 4:00 AM CDT

Concerns over proselytizing Re: School board to vote on Christian lessons in classroom (May 22)

We have all recently come to learn that the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) group has made an application to utilize school facilities for opt-in religious education under minimally used legislation. For 30 years, public schools have remained free from religious exercises and more respectable of providing welcoming environments reflective of the diverse cultural backgrounds their student body populations represent.

The Manitoba government publishes a handbook for reviewing and developing facility-use policies available on their website. I note that they include reference to “A general philosophy for determining use of school division buildings, schools and facilities” as a guideline.

A quick review of the CEF website outlines their purpose as “to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” They expand on this further with “CEF, however, has been called by God to make it our highest priority to present the Gospel so children may be saved and discipled in God’s Word. We must stay on point.” In fact, while viewing their website, I received a pop-up notification with the messaging “Boys & Girls need to know Jesus loves them.”

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4:00 AM CDT

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

Laura Lawrence, Discovery Time school program director.

Courageous little girl’s story enrages First Nations community but, somehow, hope remains

Niigaan Sinclair 5 minute read Preview

Courageous little girl’s story enrages First Nations community but, somehow, hope remains

Niigaan Sinclair 5 minute read Yesterday at 5:36 PM CDT

It’s well known that the Catholic Church has a history of sending abusive employees to First Nations communities.

In yet another case in a Catholic-run institution, this week Little Grand Rapids RCMP charged priest Arul Savari with sexual assault after an eight-year-old girl reported the alleged incident to her family.

Police believe Savari has victimized others and are investigating at nearby Pauingassi First Nation, where he also worked.

In response, Little Grand Rapids residents have had enough. After a community meeting Tuesday, members told Chief Oliver Owen to evict the church.

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Yesterday at 5:36 PM CDT

Arul Savari, 48, has been accused of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl at a Roman Catholic church on the Little Grand Rapids First Nation. (Facebook)

Cuba’s Elián González: then and now

Peter McKenna 5 minute read Preview

Cuba’s Elián González: then and now

Peter McKenna 5 minute read 2:00 AM CDT

Some Democratic Party insiders once postulated that five-year-old Cuban, Elián González, cost then-U.S. Vice-President Al Gore the 2000 presidential election. González became a central figure in U.S. domestic politics when he was rescued by a Florida fishing vessel — after his mother (and her boyfriend) died trying to leave Cuba in search of a better life in the fall of 1999.

Democratic strategists maintained that angry Cuban-Americans, mostly in South Florida, voted overwhelmingly in favour of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. After all the legal wrangling over “hanging chads,” Gore lost the battleground state of Florida by roughly 540 votes.

After Elián was turned over to his mother’s family in Miami’s “Little Havana” neighbourhood, he was immediately flooded with gifts and anti-Castro thoughts. His birth father, Juan Miguel, in Cárdenas, Cuba — who was not aware that Elián had been taken on the treacherous voyage to Miami — wanted his son returned to him. But his relatives in Little Havana thought otherwise.

As it turned out, Elián got caught up in the controversy around U.S. immigration policy — and Cuba’s special place within that thorny issue area. Because he was found off the coast of Florida, and therefore did not reach the U.S. shoreline, he ran afoul of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton’s so-called “wet feet, dry feet” policy for Cuban migrants. In short, because he was picked up at sea (with wet feet), Elián was not eligible for U.S. residency status, and thus should have been promptly sent back to Cuba.

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2:00 AM CDT

Alan Diaz / AP files

Elián González is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of two men who rescued the boy from the ocean, as government officials search the Miami home of Lazaro González in April 22, 2000.

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Danielle Smith can’t — or won’t — face the debts of tomorrow

Max Fawcett, Canada's National Observer 1 minute read Preview

Danielle Smith can’t — or won’t — face the debts of tomorrow

Max Fawcett, Canada's National Observer 1 minute read Yesterday at 1:46 PM CDT

Elections are no time to discuss serious issues, as Kim Campbell once said, and the most recent Alberta one was no different. At a time when the ever-accelerating energy transition demanded a serious conversation about the province’s future, Albertans instead got a personality-driven campaign that focused far more on past missteps than any plans the two sides had for the future.

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Yesterday at 1:46 PM CDT

UCP Leader Danielle Smith makes her victory speech in Calgary on Monday May 29, 2023. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says the people of Alberta have voted and the Liberal government respects their choice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Letters, June 1

6 minute read Preview

Letters, June 1

6 minute read Updated: Yesterday at 9:33 AM CDT

Better options, fewer carsI read Ray Kohanik’s opinion piece It’s time to make better transportation decisions (May 29) with interest.

His analysis is correct that widening Kenaston Boulevard is a project out of our budget, whether or not cost-sharing comes through this time from other levels of government. (For those keeping score at home, Kenaston has been twice rejected. Third time’s the charm?)

As it stands, by the city’s own analysis, traffic will have returned to Kenaston, and our commute times will be longer than they are now, before we have paid off the bill. The reality is we already have far more roads than we can properly afford to maintain given our tax base. Unless we want to double our property taxes and cut basically all of our services, we need to find a way to use our transportation infrastructure more efficiently if we want to give future generations a fighting chance for financial sustainability.

I note that Kohanik points to Norway’s investment in EVs as a solution. While he highlights Norway’s similar climate and sprawl, he missed what is being done in cities. For example, Oslo has committed to radically reducing vehicle trips through investment in transit and its walk/bike infrastructure. They might have been inspired by Finland, where Oulu sees thousands of children biking to school through their cold and snowy winters (and a note that Oulu is quite a sprawling city, much like Winnipeg).

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Updated: Yesterday at 9:33 AM CDT

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Files

A widened Kenaston Boulevard won’t ease traffic holdups owing to light-studded roadways, as the plan incorporates stop lights.

Do universities brainwash students?

Scott Forbes 4 minute read Preview

Do universities brainwash students?

Scott Forbes 4 minute read Wednesday, May. 31, 2023

In an unguarded moment on the grounds of the Manitoba legislature, Candice Bergen referred to public educators at our public universities, and even schools, as “brainwashing” their students.

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Wednesday, May. 31, 2023

Adrian Wyld/ The Canadian Press files

Candice Bergen, co-chair of the Manitoba PC re-election campaign, made waves by suggesting universities and schools are ‘brainwashing’ their students.

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