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This article was published 9/8/2019 (1014 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After 20 consecutive years on Broadway, longtime River Heights MLA Jon Gerrard is once again asking the community to send him to the Legislature.
"I’m running again because there’s a lot of really important work to do at the provincial level and we have a really good Liberal team led by Dougald Lamont, and we’re working hard, and I just feel good about working with the team and working on behalf of the people in the province and River Heights."
Gerrard, who practiced pediatrics before politics, was first elected in 1999 with the Liberal Party of Manitoba, served as the leader of the party and as party critic for a number of files, and at 71 years old is hitting the provincial campaign trail for the sixth time.
While some may consider retirement — even before the age of 70 — Gerrard said the current status of the province’s health care system was a prime motivator to extend his tenure.
"I got into politics because I believe there were ways to improve health care and having been in provincial politics for almost 20 years now, it’s very apparent to me, that whether it was the NDP before or the Conservatives now, the ideas that they have in terms of improving health care are not good enough," Gerrard said.
"I think with my experience and our Liberal ideas on how to get things done, we can do much better in terms of managing health care in the province."
Of the Liberal Party’s announced campaign promises, Gerrard said he’s encouraged by commitments to mental health and addictions treatment as well as the reopening of the Victoria General Hospital emergency room.
"I think what we’re looking to achieve at Victoria hospital is to better deal locally with some, but not all emergencies," Gerrard said, noting some hospitals are better equipped for specific medical emergencies. "We’ve got an urgent care at Victoria Hospital and I think we can upgrade it so it can be possible to look after higher level emergencies than it is currently capable of doing."
Gerrard said his constituents raise concerns about health care more often than any other topic when door knocking in the community, followed by climate change, crime, rental housing, and intergovernmental co-operation.
On local topics, including the widening of Kenaston Boulevard, Gerrard said the MLP is eager to work with politicians of any stripe to get that project moving forward. Before a decision can be made on whether or not to move the Manitoba Youth Centre to make room for the roadway and save expropriating some residential properties, Gerrard said a full cost analysis and formal drawings are required.
"We’re certainly in support of improving the traffic situation on Kenaston Boulevard and we’re certainly ready to work with other levels of government to make things happen, but we’d like to see more detailed plans and cost estimates," Gerrard said.
Gerrard said he’d also continue to support the municipal government as it embarks on a new twin arena and recreation centre near Grant Park High School.
"I think that’s something that needs to continue to be looked at," he said.
Also running in River Heights are Green Party candidate Nathan Zahn, Jonathan Niemczak for the NDP, and Susan Boulter for the Progressive Conservatives.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.