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This article was published 3/9/2019 (870 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Headliner posed the following questions to registered candidates running for election in Roblin. Manitoba New Democratic Party candidate Sophie Brandt-Murenzi did not respond by press time.
How are the recent changes in Winnipeg hospital ERs and critical care departments affecting Roblin residents?
Michael Bazak (Manitoba Liberal Party): Residents have to travel further to gain access to emergency care. In addition, residents are confused when trying to triage their own illness in determining whether or not to travel to HSC (Health Sciences Centre) versus Victoria General. HSC already triages their emergency patients into a critical and non-critical queue and is viewed as resource-rich with a higher quality of care compared to urgent care facilities.
Myrna Driedger (Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba): Changes are being made in health care in order to fix a system that was broken. Manitoba led Canada in the longest wait times at our hospitals, we had the highest ambulance fees, and more doctors were leaving Manitoba than any province. The changes will bring better care sooner to patients. The new Grace Hospital ER has been a part of that transformation.
Kevin Nichols (Green Party of Manitoba): The recent changes have been detrimental to the well-being of many residents in Winnipeg and surrounding areas. Roblin-area residents have been fortunate and unfortunate to have the Grace ER remain. The fact it is one of only three ERs remaining open and relatively close to the Roblin area is fortunate for the residents in terms of emergency health care. The unfortunate part of that equation is that the hospital ER is understaffed to handle a large number of emergency cases that may present themselves because they are one of three ER’s open. Cutbacks to front-line staffing have also hurt our health care system and have not been able to provide the level of care required. What I also hear at the door is the concern about privatization of the health care system. Profit should never be put before people’s health and well-being.
How can the current public education system be improved?
Bazak: There needs to be a more concerted focus on early childhood literacy, including family literacy. In addition, earlier diagnosis and treatment of learning and other disabilities improves long-term outcomes. Finally, create a program that facilitates improved training and professional development for early childhood educators along with a corresponding pay increase.
Driedger: The Progressive Conservative government has committed to investing in 20 new schools over the next decade. This commitment means nearly 11,000 (students) will be learning in real classrooms rather than trailers. To improve student outcomes and the overall quality of public education, a K-12 education commission was launched last year and has consulted thousands of teachers, students and parents.
Nichols: Like any system, improvements can be made. The Green Party would like to move away from funding education with property taxes to a model of funding that would see taxes come from personal and corporate taxes.
The Green Party has many different policies to address increased support for students with specific needs. We would provide support in schools for children and families living in poverty, update school curriculums to promote meaningful engagement, improving the educational experience of Indigenous students. Not every school is the same and there needs to be support and autonomy given to teachers and schools, and finally, provide increased assistance to post-secondary students to promote equal access to education.
How can the provincial government better serve seniors?
Bazak: Reduce wait times for critical procedures like hip/knee replacement, cataract correction and diagnostic imaging. Replace surgery quotas with patient-based alternatives that combined with increased access to outpatient services achieves better results. Restore emergency services in urgent care facilities, which promotes access and eliminates the need to self-diagnose.
Driedger: One of the initiatives I am truly humbled to have played a role in is the Charleswood 55 Plus Active Living Centre. I worked with a group of community seniors to start programming geared towards seniors living within Charleswood. These groups offer exercise classes, social activities, and a home like community to help serve seniors. Governments encouraging these active living centres benefit not only the seniors living within the community, but the entire community. Any measure to improve affordability and decrease taxes also benefits seniors.
Nichols: Many of the seniors I have spoken with are concerned with health care. Improving health care is in the forefront of the Green Party of Manitoba platform. Seniors need access to adequate and appropriate health care, they also need these services at little to no cost.
Lower cost of pharmaceuticals is also a concern among seniors, as well as lower costs for such things as hearing aids, dental care, walking aids and readily available physiotherapy for people with joint replacements. The Green Party of Manitoba has incorporated all these in our policies and platform.
Greens also promote healthy living and I would promote more 55-plus centres and ensure the ones we have in place remain open and operational, providing funding for programs already thriving.