Burrows constituency report
Diljeet Brar is the NDP MLA for Burrows.
Recent articles of Diljeet Brar
As we wrap up the last weeks of the school year and ease into the summer holidays, I want to take a moment to congratulate all the graduates in my constituency. I wish the classes of 2022 my heartfelt congratulations for all of the work that was done to achieve this important milestone.
With so many students going above and beyond during the difficult school year, I want to congratulate all the amazing young leaders who have made positive impacts on their school community this year. I am proud to recognize, yearly, one deserving student from each of our schools — Maples MET School, Sisler High School, Maples Collegiate, O.V. Jewitt School, Lord Nelson School, Elwick Community School, Robertson School, Andrew Mynarski and King Edward Community School with the Burrows MLA Leadership scholarship.
I would like to publicly congratulate and recognize the scholarship recipients from the graduating classes of 2022. I would also like to congratulate Amandeep Dhanoa from Maples MET School for winning Schulich Scholarship funding. The community of Burrows is so proud, and I cannot wait to see all that your future holds.
The amount of work that education staff have undertaken to keep our children safe and learning over the past two years has been nothing short of heroic. To the teachers who put in extra hours adapting their lesson plans online, we commend you. To the educational assistants stretching themselves thin in classrooms that are not adequately resourced, we salute you. To the janitors and custodial staff going above and beyond to ensure that classrooms and hallways are sanitized, we thank you. For school staff, I know that each day you’ve done your best to make your students feel safe and supported in an environment in which they can learn.
As your MLA, I have been focused on the priorities of Manitobans, including health care, education and affordability. That’s why I was so disappointed with the budget recently put forward by the Progressive Conservative government. It is simply a continuation of Brian Pallister’s plan.
Manitobans were looking for hope in this budget — hope for health care, hope for an economic recovery and hope for a better future for their kids, but this budget lets Manitobans down.
Premier Stefanson’s first budget continues Pallister’s legacy of underfunding health care far below the rate of inflation. That means cuts for our hospitals, emergency rooms and front-line workers. We all know someone who is waiting for surgery and over 300 Manitobans have been transported hundreds of kilometres away because there aren’t beds for them. Unfortunately, this budget does not set a timeline to clear the surgical backlog, nor does it lay out a clear plan for when those transferred might return home.
In fact, the budget did not announce a single new personal care home bed. That is deeply disappointing. The PCs promised 1,200 additional beds, but there are now less than when they came to office. The budget also maintains the freeze on operating funding to communities, making it harder to recover from the pandemic.
The Ukrainian community in Manitoba has deep roots, as early Ukrainian settlers and newcomers helped shape the social, political, and cultural landscape of our great province and the community of Burrows. I strongly condemn Russia’s violent acts. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected and the Ukrainian people must be free to determine their own future.
Putin’s actions are so evidently brutal and so blatantly unjust that he has reminded us all how awful, and how worthy of condemnation, it is to initiate an unjust invasion. My message to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people is clear — you are not alone, the world is watching, Manitobans stand with you, I stand with you. Governments at every level must do everything they can to pursue peace and protect the Ukrainian people from Russia’s imperialist invasion and attack on democracy.
As we pray for Ukraine and pray for peace, the NDP reiterates its commitment to support the resettlement of Ukrainians in Manitoba, where so many have found peace and prosperity over the decades. We will continue to work with the Manitoba Ukrainian community to identify ways to help those who are in danger. We call on the Progressive Conservative government to provide increased supports for local Ukrainian organizations in our province. We urge the premier to work in collaboration with the federal government to implement measures that expedite the immigration process so that Ukrainians are able to seek refuge and start a new life in Manitoba.
To the Ukrainian community in Burrows:
I’d like to wish the constituents of Burrows a very happy and healthy 2022. Despite the hardships of the pandemic, the past year was a wonderful year of community connection, collaboration, and perseverance in my constituency.
Throughout the year, I connected with community members at businesses, doorsteps, schools, and virtually. I was able to hear first-hand about the uncertainty and challenges faced by families in Burrows – particularly concerns about the Progressive Conservative government’s inability to invest in health care and education.
Constituents in Burrows have a vision for a government that stands up for all Manitobans. However, as we enter into a new year, it is clear that Premier Stefanson continues to follow in the footsteps of her predecessor, Brian Pallister. As cases take an unprecedented surge and people look towards the government for leadership, this premier is missing in action — just as she was when she was health minister.
The government has failed to make the necessary investments to keep Manitobans safe. To prevent the spread of the virus to our loved ones, getting tested is necessary. However, Premier Stefanson has not increased the capacity for mass rapid testing and effective contact tracing, leaving Manitobans in a vulnerable position.
On Nov. 23, Premier Heather Stefanson unveiled her throne speech in attempt to distinguish herself from her predecessor, Brian Pallister. This was Premier Stefanson’s chance to prove she’s different — but it’s clear that the priorities of the Pallister-Stefanson governments are aligned. Manitobans expect and deserve a government that will fix problems instead of making them worse.
The Progressive Conservative government under Pallister did a lot of damage to our province — from health care to education to raising the cost of living. Premier Stefanson’s throne speech offered nothing new to Manitobans who are waiting for answers on how we will emerge and recover from this pandemic and repair the damage done by Brian Pallister.
Up to 80 per cent of the commitments in Premier Stefanson’s throne speech were repeats from the Pallister administration. It is clear that nothing has changed at the decision-making table and the PC government continues to fail all Manitobans. Premier Stefanson is recycling ideas from a failed premier who prioritized cuts, not Manitobans.
The throne speech demonstrates that the PCs are not in touch with the realities Manitobans face. The premier failed to properly address the issues that Manitobans care about — fixing our health-care system, making life more affordable, investing in education, caring for seniors and post-pandemic recovery.
On Oct. 30, Progressive Conservative party members elected a new leader and the first female premier in Manitoba — Heather Stefanson.
While history was made in our province, there is nothing new about Premier Heather Stefanson. She may claim that her political agenda is nothing like that of former premier Brian Pallister but, in fact, she is not far removed from Pallister’s disreputable legacy. When she was health minister and Pallister’s deputy-premier, Heather Stefanson’s cuts eroded our health-care system and left Manitobans struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alongside Pallister, she made decisions that continue to devastate Manitoba families and communities. Her decisions as health minister during the third wave of the pandemic led to sending our sickest patients out of province. She went missing in action when Manitobans needed her leadership the most and she won’t stand up for Manitobans now.
As deputy-premier, Stefanson was Pallister’s partner every step of the way. This is a strong indication of what the next two years will look like under our new premier. The political agenda will be the same.
One of my favourite things about our community is the strong desire to give back and help others. The way that we do this has changed for many of us in recent times, with old opportunities on hold and new ones emerging. One of these new opportunities includes Drop of Hope.
Drop of Hope formed in April 2021 as a group of blood donors with the vision of motivating and educating others in their community to donate blood.
Officially registered and working in collaboration with Canadian Blood Services, they began hosting blood donation drives,and have hosted 10 group donations to date. We know that their efforts are making a difference, as the majority of people who have participated in these drives are first time blood donors, inspired by the message of Drop of Hope.
There is an ongoing and urgent need for blood in Canada. Drop of Hope recognizes that there is considerable disparity between the number of people in need of blood, and the number of people donating blood.
The right of all adults to cast their ballots on election day is central to democracy in Canada. The 2021 federal election is coming up very soon - on Mon., Sept. 20. It is important that all Canadians take this opportunity to have their voices heard.
I especially want to encourage young adults in Burrows to get out and cast their votes. For those who have turned 18 since the 2019 election, such as our recent high school graduates, this is your first opportunity to vote for who you want to be your local political representative - at any level of government.
Youth are critically important to our democracy. They bring a new way of seeing and doing things and they have an abundance of hope and passion for making the future better. Unfortunately, statistics show that young adults typically have lower participation in the electoral process - but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Millennials and Gen Z now make up a substantial part of the voting population and it is now more possible than ever for young people to drive the results of this and every election.
With just weeks until the start of the 2021-22 school year, kids, parents, and educators want to be assured that schools will be safe.
Experts tell us that wearing a mask is one of the simplest things we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially with the more transmissible and dangerous Delta variant becoming the prominent strain across Canada.
Instead of listening to the science, the Progressive Conservative government has eliminated the mask mandate in schools. It just doesn’t make sense. I know many families in Burrows are disappointed that the PCs would choose politics over the safety of our kids.
We’ve been here before. In each wave of this pandemic, the PC government has had the chance to learn from other provinces - but it has squandered that opportunity every time. Now, we are watching history repeat itself yet again. The PCs refuse to learn from their own mistakes and Manitobans have paid the price - this time it’s our kids who are most at risk.
Change is a difficult thing. Some people tend to run towards it, embracing each opportunity, while others shy away and avoid it as much as possible.
This past year has been full of changes, good and bad, permanent and temporary. Some days I find myself hoping and wishing for changes, like lower ICU admissions and hospitalizations and higher vaccination rates.
One thing that cannot change is history. Canada’s history is dark in many ways, and nothing can hide or change that fact. What we do have the power to change is the present, and the future.
We are uncovering mass graves of children who died because of residential schools. These are children who were taken from their families, their homes; children who were told that they must throw away their culture and their heritage and must adopt new practices instead. This was, and is, wrong. Culture and heritage can’t be buried; it will regrow.
I am so excited to share with the residents of Burrows that all Manitobans aged 12 and over are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Residents can call their local pharmacies to see if they have vaccines available: Norwest Co-Op Community Health (785 Keewatin St.) or register to be vaccinated at the Leila Super Site (770 Leila Ave.).
Please check out protectmb.ca or call 1-844-626-8222 to sign up today. If you have any questions, do reach out to my office.
I was recently vaccinated at the Waterford Pharmacy. I have been looking forward to being vaccinated for months, so it was an honour to finally have this opportunity. I had a wonderful experience receiving my vaccine; the process was quick and the staff were very helpful and kind. After many months of waiting, most Manitobans are now eligible to receive the vaccine.
This is a collective step closer to returning to some sort of normalcy in the near future. Whether it be attending birthday parties, large sporting events, religious gatherings, or visiting the seniors and elders in our life — I truly feel like we are getting closer to returning to the things we love. I am happy I have done my part to protect my loved ones and all Manitobans from the COVID-19 virus, and I encourage you to do the same.
I would like to wish all constituents of Burrows and folks across Manitoba a very Happy Sikh Heritage Month.
I would like to thank my friend and colleague, NDP leader Wab Kinew for introducing Bill 228, the Sikh Heritage Month Act in 2019.
Sikh constituents in Burrows and across Manitoba consider this bill historic as it represents all of their efforts and contributions within the community. This annual recognition would not have been possible without Sikh Heritage Manitoba, who were instrumental in lobbying for the bill’s passage into law.
Sikhs in Burrows and across Manitoba recently celebrated Vaisakhi, which marks the spring harvest in India and is the first day of the month of Vaisakh. Vaisakhi has religious significance for our community, since it is the day when Khalsa was born.
This year has already been busy and exciting in my constituency office in Burrows. I would like to take this opportunity to update folks in Burrows about some of the projects I have been involved with so far this year.
February was I Love to Read Month and though it looked a bit different than in previous years, I was happy to still be able to engage with the community. I had the pleasure of filming videos and completing online readings for the young minds in the area. Thank you to the staff and teachers at Lord Nelson, Elwick, Robertson, and King Edward schools for allowing me to connect with some of your classes. It was a delight to receive feedback that the stories I read sincerely resonated with students.
I have also been speaking with many taxi operators in the community who have expressed concerns about access to financial support through the Manitoba Bridge Grant program.
Together, we have been able to organize a petition calling for improved access to the grant for taxi operators. I am grateful to each taxi operator that has reached out to me to let me know about their concerns.
I hope your new year has started off well and that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during these very challenging times.
As we slowly make our way into the spring in Manitoba, I am looking for new opportunities to engage with folks in Burrows. I am very excited to share that my office wants to work in association with you, the constituents, to create new community supported agriculture projects in our neighbourhood.
CSA programs are a way that we can learn to tread lighter on the earth, source food that is convenient and affordable, and build relationships within our community. Through CSA projects, community members learn about the land where their food is being grown and receive education on how to sustain their own small plot.
Through CSA projects, we create food that travels shorter distances rather than thousands of miles. These projects significantly reduce harmful emissions from transportation, and reduce one-time-use packaging. CSA projects often become a way of life for folks, and they are empowered to share this knowledge with others in their life.
Many families in Burrows and across Manitoba have been impacted by detrimental changes to agricultural legislation in India. These legislative changes will have a significant effect on the future of their families, both here and abroad.
For decades, Indian producers have relied on government regulation to ensure some level of fair prices and services. Due to legislative changes, government regulation has been swept aside in favour of a wide-open system that favours corporate power and consolidation.
In India, an overwhelming number of producers own small plots of land. They are under significant financial pressure to put their product up for sale immediately because most do not have the ability to store or transport their harvest. Small producers without means to hold or ship their product will be prone to the manipulations of large private corporations.
In what has become a familiar refrain of right-wing governments everywhere, the Indian government has referred to its changes as giving freedom of choice to producers. But for many producers, it means that they will have no choice but to accept unfair payment for the fruits of their labour.
I am honoured to work in a caucus that represents the diversity of Manitoba. That is why we understand the importance of sharing information and data on how COVID-19 has impacted visible minorities and providing meaningful training to address people’s implicit bias in our workplace.
StatsCan released a report detailing that communities with large populations of visible minorities experienced higher rates of mortality during the first wave of COVID-19. The author of this report states that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted visible minorities.
Demands have continued to be made for the Pallister government to release Manitoba’s data but to date nothing has been released. This failure to publicize exemplifies this government’s interest in working with and for visible minority communities.
This data would allow us to see inequalities and inequities experienced by visible minority communities pre-pandemic. This data would also allow us to better target public health messaging, inform policy decisions, highlight housing inequalities and access to the labour market, as well as pre-existing health conditions for visible minority communities. Publicizing this data could ensure that resources are supplied to communities most in need across the province.
Our seniors are our history, precedent, bank of knowledge and experienced experts of life. They are the undeniable rock-solid foundation of our society.
During these extraordinary times, in which social isolation and loneliness are prevalent, we need to go an extra mile and be more compassionate. We have been calling and meeting to touch base with our senior constituents and to no surprise of ours, they greet us with a big hello and welcome us with informative conversations.
The care and compassion they show after they hear from someone, when they haven’t talked to anyone all day, is inspiring.
Seniors need to be reminded that their contributions, prior and current, to our community are important and valued. Their dignity must be maintained and their health must be looked after. No one stays young forever, and this is the time to set precedent for our future generations.
This pandemic has proved that our basic income is not sufficient to pay for our basic needs. It has also proven that we absolutely depend on front-line workers, who are often paid the lowest amount of money, to keep our lives going smoothly. We have clearly recognized the importance of front-line workers during this difficult time.
Manitoba is struggling with poverty and the current minimum wage of $11.65 (which will rise to $11.90 on Oct. 1) is just not acceptable. A 2018 report on poverty trends from Citizens for Public Justice showed that three in 10 Manitobans (30 per cent) are living in poverty. The number of children living in poverty is significantly higher than the national levels, too.
Manitoba’s minimum wage is also the second-lowest in the country, ahead of Saskatchewan, where the minimum wage is $11.32.
No full-time workers should be living in poverty considering the time and hard work being invested daily into their jobs.
For many weeks I have been hearing from constituents of Burrows who are concerned about a decreasing sense of safety and peace in our community. My office has heard that cars have been speeding excessively on our residential streets and have been blasting music very loudly.
Drivers in the Burrows, Maples and Amber Trails area have been causing a disturbance to community residents for a long time now, mostly caused by loud music from speeding cars with the windows down. Often, these cars have modified mufflers and make even more noise that disturb the peace of the evening walkers and residents in these areas.
Cars have been known to race around the block or slow their drives to a crawl, repeated times during the day. Specifically, we have heard that these nuisances are concentrated mostly on Adsum Drive, Jefferson Avenue, the parking lot across from Maples Collegiate, and Amber Trails Community School parking lot.
We have also been hearing about more accounts of street harassment and intimidating behaviour towards community members. There have been reports of drivers following families during their evening walks, and shouting rude comments while driving by. Children are beginning to feel unsafe and worried about going for bike rides or walks with friends and family now. This is not OK.
The month of June is recognized as National Indigenous History Month in Canada to honour the heritage, culture and contribution of Indigenous people in development and growth of our society.
Coincidently, June is also Filipino Heritage Month in Canada. The Filipino community has contributed a lot to the socio-economic development of Manitoba. They have brought their language, folk dances, folk music, food and cultural values to this beautiful country only to make it more beautiful.
May 21 is celebrated as Ukrainian Vyshyvanka Day — which celebrates the beauty and craftsmanship of the Ukrainian embroidered shirt, which are integral part of Ukrainian dance costumes and traditional attire.
The Punjabi community in Manitoba plays an important part in the provincial economy by serving in the service sector, owning businesses and influencing other socio-cultural ways of life.