River Heights constituency report
Jon Gerrard is Liberal MLA for River Heights.
Recent articles of Jon Gerrard
Those with learning disabilities need support3 minute read Preview Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2022
In my fourth year of medical school, I was fortunate to have an elective in which I spent three months with Prof. John Soothill at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London. It was a stimulating time, as he was a brilliant scientist and clinician, and he was a fountain of ideas. But when I arrived, he startled me by saying right at the beginning that he had dyslexia and had to learn virtually everything by listening to others, for he had great difficulty reading. Reading was almost useless to him as a source of information.
The need to improve home care in Manitoba3 minute read Preview Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022
Throughout the pandemic, I have received concerns from constituents about home-care services provided by the province.
Health-care improvements are needed in 20223 minute read Preview Friday, Dec. 31, 2021
In River Heights and in Manitoba, we are caught up in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a critical time, with the Omicron variant coming at a point when Manitoba’s health-care system is greatly stressed just dealing with the fourth wave. We cannot wait for a report from a task force, which was only appointed a couple weeks ago, when we need action right now.
Nurses are burned out beyond belief, with short staffing levels and high acuity caseloads. This needs to be better acknowledged. There needs to be a major effort to provide better working conditions for nurses, to achieve the staffing levels required for high quality care, and to ensure routine medical and surgical care can happen even during the pandemic.
In the last two weeks, Manitoba Liberals have called for a series of measures to address the current situation. Manitoba needs free rapid covid tests to be made readily available through pharmacies, libraries, liquor marts, malls, and other readily accessible community locations. We need to make vaccines mandatory for workers in long-term care. We must enhance vaccination requirements for children. Businesses and organizations should disclose their vaccination policies for staff and customers so that clients can make informed decisions.
For too long, communication about public health orders have not been clear. A messaging campaign to directly challenge misinformation around vaccines and public health orders would help with misinformation. Last, the approval of monoclonal antibodies (MABS) to reduce symptoms for unvaccinated individuals who fall ill with COVID-19 would likely reduce deaths in the province owing to COVID-19. This would also reduce hospital and ICU needs.
Addressing the need for quick access to eye surgeries3 minute read Preview Friday, Nov. 5, 2021
Vision and ophthalmology are important. Prompt attention to eye surgeries is essential.
I was recently approached to look into this by a River Heights constituent. Retinal detachment surgery is urgent, and the procedure is to prevent irreversible damage to the retinal (nerve) tissue and permanent vision loss.
Cataract surgery, in contrast, is viewed as elective. But, if left too long, cataracts can be difficult to remove and the surgery can become complicated. Delayed surgery can take longer and may require further surgery; it may cost more and have slow or poor vision recovery. Doing cataract surgery in a timely manner can avoid these unnecessary difficulties.
Most cataract surgeries are in people over age 65. In an older person, poor eyesight can lead to a fall which can result in a broken hip or head injury; these can be life threatening or life altering. I know this well as both my parents suffered from declining vision as they aged. Both had life-limiting falls and broken hips. In both cases, the declining vision almost certainly contributed to the falls.
Making schools safer for everyone3 minute read Preview Friday, Oct. 8, 2021
With children in River Heights back in school, we are all concerned about their safety.
We all want to make sure they do not get the COVID-19 virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. For children old enough to be vaccinated, getting vaccinated needs to be a priority. For those less than 12 years of age, other measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are needed, although it appears a vaccine may be available in the near future for those under 12.
There has been a lot of talk about the need to improve ventilation in schools as well as mask use. An evaluation of the effect of improving ventilation and wearing masks was done in schools in the U.S. state of Georgia and the findings from this study are helpful.
The study was done in November and December of 2020. This was a time before the appearance of the delta variant, but the findings nevertheless give us an indication of the importance of addressing ventilation in schools.
Recognizing Emancipation Day3 minute read Preview Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021
This is the first year, across Canada, that we recognized Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day.
On Aug. 1, 1834, slavery was abolished in the British Empire. As there were certain limits (people over six years of age were designated as apprentices and required to work 40 hours a week), full emancipation was not achieved until four years later on Aug. 1, 1838.
Historian Marcel Trudel estimated there were about 4,200 enslaved people in Canada between 1671 and 1831, and that initially two-thirds were Indigenous and one-third of African descent. Toward the end of this period, with an increased number of people coming to Canada with slaves, those of African descent outnumbered those who were Indigenous. It is an all too often forgotten or unmentioned part of our history.
In River Heights, we have many residents of Indigenous or of African descent. Emancipation Day has a special meaning for them. It is also an important opportunity for all Canadians to become more aware of this part of our history. Emancipation of slaves meant freedom to all, freedom from enslavement for those who were slaves and enhanced dignity and respect for everyone.
Better than Bill 643 minute read Preview Tuesday, Jul. 13, 2021
On June 17, I hosted a Zoom town hall meeting to discuss better options for improving education in Manitoba than those presented in Bill 64.
It is important to not just criticize Bill 64, but to present alternatives which will be effective and are needed in Manitoba to improve our education system. Some of these approaches are already being used in Manitoba thanks to innovative school boards, superintendents, principals and teachers who have focused on improving education.
Much of this innovation and improvement would, sadly, be lost under Bill 64.
Our first two panelists, Doug Adams and Heather Shelton, are teachers who have worked in a very diverse school in Brandon.
Close to home – the residential school in River Heights3 minute read Preview Saturday, Jun. 12, 2021
The Assiniboine Indian Residential School on Academy Road operated from 1958 to 1973.
It ran from 1958 to 1967 with an annual enrollment of about 100 youth from First Nations communities across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and northwestern Ontario. From 1967 to 1973, it served as a hostel where students stayed while attending area high schools.
In recent days, Canadians have been shocked to learn of the 215 children’s bodies found in unmarked graves near Kamloops, B.C. Led by Indigenous people, the search of other sites across Canada will continue, possibly including the Assiniboine residential school site.
Fifteen years ago, in the spring of 2006, I visited the Brandon Friendship Centre, where I saw a plaque which honoured children who stayed at the Brandon residential school between 1896 and 1923 and who never went home.
Taking care of yourself in the time of COVID3 minute read Preview Tuesday, May. 18, 2021
In my work as an MLA, I am finding that the COVID pandemic is creating major challenges for youth and young adults in River Heights.
When your world is turned upside down and you can’t do sports like you usually do, when education is often virtual, when you can’t hug people (except for your close family) and when you can’t just get together with a group of friends, life feels very unfair.
Everyone is different. For some, spending lots of time on Zoom or Teams or another video conference platform is OK. Many feel that Zoom can’t compare to experiencing life in person. For some it is easy to accommodate being in class with a mask on and physically distancing, while for others it is just not working.
Some have a family member they can go outside with for a walk or a run, or play tennis. Others don’t. Some have an outdoor or sport opportunity nearby that can still be played in small groups — like throwing a Frisbee, hitting a golf ball or playing tennis. Others don’t.
Looking ahead to the light at the tunnel’s end3 minute read Preview Monday, Dec. 28, 2020
Soon, we’ll begin a new year. After a year in which our lives were dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we enter 2021 with a number of vaccines and a light at the end of the tunnel to signal the end of the pandemic. The end will not come quickly, but it will come in 2021.
How that light glows and grows will depend on us. We have lost too many of our loved ones and too many of our elders, while seniors in personal care homes remain in danger from the spread of COVID-19. Too many families are now struggling. Some who rely on medications to manage diseases like diabetes are having to face the difficult choice of getting their medications or buying food. And so many of our local business owners are suffering as a result of the lockdowns and restrictions that have been put in place during the pandemic.
We must do all we can to help each other get safely through this difficult time, even as we begin to plan with more hope for the renewal which is to come.
In River Heights, we can begin to look forward to our local businesses fully reopening so that we can walk in and talk with our friends and neighbours while we shop. We look forward to being able to visit more freely with others and resume the socializing that is so important to our mental well-being. We look forward to when our community centres, churches, synagogues and temples will be available for everyone to worship, play, and come together as a community.
Child care essential for all Manitobans3 minute read Preview Thursday, Sep. 10, 2020
Early learning and child care are a cornerstone in Manitoba today.
Residents of River Heights reach out to me on a regular basis regarding the various difficulties they face. Access to this service is vital when both parents are working and child care is needed for people to have jobs and for our economy to flourish.
For example, as children in Manitoba begin returning to school, access to child care is essential for teachers. If teachers cannot access the child care needed to work, the result is a shortage of teachers.
Quality in child care and early childhood education is as important as quantity. Consistency in child care providers helps with the attachment of children. This, plus consistency in the emphasis on education, helps a child’s development and their readiness for school. Though play is an essential part of a child’s ability to enjoy an experience in child care, it is also an opportunity for learning and for the development of social skills. For this reason, my colleagues Dougald Lamont, Cindy Lamoureux and I believe that putting child care and early childhood education under the provincial Department of Education merits serious consideration — to stabilize and enhance the supports for it, and for the linkage to later education. There are several high-quality early learning centres right here in River Heights that need support.