Notre Dame constituency report
Malaya Marcelino is the NDP MLA for Notre Dame.
Recent articles of Malaya Marcelino
After a long and snowy winter, spring is finally upon us and like many Notre Dame residents, I can’t wait to spend more time outside enjoying the warmer temperatures. However, we have all noticed that as the snow fades from sight, there is now a massive amount of garbage piled up through the winter.
I have been calling on the city to speed up the clean-up process but with an issue of this proportion it is clear that the city can’t do it alone and the province needs to step in with more resources. In the short term, I have asked for support from the province to organize multiple, large community-wide clean-ups, the type that require small Bobcats, dumpster bins and transportation rentals. I am hoping to get a positive response soon.
Despite the huge challenges presented by the amount of garbage in our communities, there are so many people and organizations, such as the West Alexander Resident’s Association, Spence Neighbourhood Association, and Central Neighbourhoods, which have stepped up and organized major cleaning operations. It has been amazing to see our community come together because we care about a clean environment and the safety of kids and neighbours.
However, we also need long-term solutions to the many issues, including hazardous garbage, that are so interconnected. There are so many systemic issues contributing to our city’s garbage problem but the Progressive Conservative government is not doing nearly enough to address these issues. It has sold off social housing and failed to repair existing social housing, it cut people off from disability and regular EIA benefits, and it has raised Manitoba Hydro rates while letting our minimum wage fall to the lowest in the country by the end of the year. These are the issues my NDP colleagues and I raise in the Legislature every single day.
Everyone deserves equal pay for work of equal value. That is why I have introduced Bill 222 - The Pay Transparency Act, which would require employers to include pay information in publicly advertised job postings and require private sector employers with more than 100 employees to file a pay audit report with the pay equity commissioner, including information on gender, diversity, and pay of employees.
From our own community of Notre Dame to all of Canada, the gender wage-gap is demonstrated in lower wages for women everywhere. It’s time to close the gender wage gap, particularly where it is greatest — for Indigenous, newcomer and racialized women, and women with disabilities. As life keeps getting more expensive for working families we can’t ignore gender discrimination on the pay scale. Women make, on average, 75 cents for every dollar a man makes. Newcomer women earn 71 cents for every dollar a man makes; and Indigenous women make 65 cents for every dollar a man makes.
This bill is the first step to ensure fair pay for all women, gender diverse folks, and racialized groups. Public reporting of positions and pay by the private sector is an important step to help stop pay discrimination in the workplace. Conducting pay audits will make sure employers identify any pay gaps that exist because of gender, race and even disabilities. This bill will do exactly these things — but it will go even further. It will also prevent employers from seeking pay history about potential employees — this initiative will remove one of the tools employers use to pay employees less than they deserve. Bill 222 will also require employers to post salaries on job postings, so that people can accurately compare rates of pay for similar jobs so they can ensure they are being paid fairly.
Communities thrive when everyone is equal. One way we can start chipping away at the gender pay gap is to advance pay transparency and pay equity legislation. This legislation represents a key step forward in the actions necessary to begin closing the gap, which has become increasingly important as the economic impacts of the pandemic unfold. Unfortunately, the Progressive Conservative government spoke out against the bill during debate, but I hope that this will be the first step in the government eventually seeing the benefits of pay equity and lending its support to this bill in the future.
The Winnipeg School Division recently announced that it would cut its full-day kindergarten pilot program which has been running in 11 of its schools for several years.
The reason given was that, while the program found that children benefited at the beginning of Grade 1, students in the half-day kindergarten program are catching up by the end of Grade 2.
However, the program did not study the economic or social benefits of full-day kindergarten, of which there are many. For example, Manitoba has a huge child-care deficit, and many parents struggle with the logistics of getting kids to a short half day of kindergarten and then to daycare placements, if they are available. Inadequate child care and educational opportunities hurt the workforce and women in particular, an issue which has been exacerbated during this pandemic. This can affect awhole family’s social and economic wellbeing, not just the child’s school academic readiness.
Full-day kindergarten is actually quite common in other Canadian provinces. In eight out of 13 provinces and territories, full-day kindergarten is widely available or even the norm. In Alberta, studies have shown that disadvantaged students benefit greatly from full-day kindergarten, which helped narrow the gap between them and other students. There are so many reasons why Manitoba should make full-day kindergarten more widely available, and it is time for the Progressive Conservative government to invest seriously in our children and families by helping them to have the best possible academic and economic outcomes.
There’s a growing labour shortage in Canada, and the child-care sector in Manitoba has not been exempt. I have heard from numerous childcare providers in Notre Dame who are sounding the alarm about the staffing shortages and the many negative effects this has on providing quality child care in our area and our province.
The main reason for the shortage of certified early childhood educators in Manitoba is that many ECEs earn little more than minimum wage because of the provincial government’s five-year funding freeze to the childcare sector — led by former families minister Heather Stefanson. With these low wage prospects, completing the required two-year certificate just doesn’t make sense for most people.
Staffing shortages are directly related to the lack of child-care spaces in Manitoba, because having fewer staff forces child-care centres to reduce enrolment in programs, hours of operation, and results in staff having to work too much overtime.
Many facilities, especially smaller centres, have to close whenever a staff member falls ill because there are not enough substitutes available to cover for them.
If you’ve been to a grocery store in recent months, you’ve probably noticed that the cost of food has gone up significantly. This is largely due to the supply chain disruptions and inflation caused by the pandemic, with overall food prices increasing by 3.9 per cent in the last year. For products such as meat, the cost has gone up almost 10 per cent, and products like oils and margarine have increased by 18.5 per cent.
These prices have hit many Notre Dame residents especially hard, such as low-income families, seniors, and those on fixed incomes, so I want to highlight some of the supports available in the community to help out folks who are struggling to access enough nutritious food for themselves and their families.
Organizations such as the The NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre have been a vital support for many people in our community, especially during the pandemic. They offer several food support programs open to all people in need, without asking for personal information. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays they offer free, nutritious take-out lunches from noon to 1:30 p.m. and suppers on Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.norwestcoop.ca/community-food-centre/
This Centre relies entirely on donations to keep its doors open, so if you are able and willing, you could consider donating your money or time as a volunteer to help support this great organization and our community.
In only a few days, Manitobans will finally get see five harmful bills officially withdrawn by the Progressive Conservative government.
For months now, my NDP colleagues and I have heard from folks all over the province about their concerns regarding these bills that the PCs were trying to pass.
I talked to so many residents of Notre Dame that were especially worried about how these bills would affect our community.
I am proud to say we stopped Bill 35, which would have made it easier for the government to keep raising your Hydro bills without checking with the experts. Recently, Hydro released its annual report, which shows it is profitable, proving the near three per cent rate increase Manitobans got last December was unnecessary.
Devastating droughts and smoke-filled skies — this summer Manitobans have begun to experience what the climate crisis will mean for us personally if we don’t take action now.
Manitoba’s greenhouse gas emissions are at an all-time high and are growing quickly under this government. Instead of fighting climate change, the government picks fights with the federal government and wastes money on lengthy court challenges that could be invested in making Manitoba more sustainable.
We know that the climate crisis will be hardest on low-income communities around the world, despite them having the smallest environmental footprint. Here in Notre Dame, there are many families who want to do their part, but can’t afford large expenses like an electric car or retrofitting their home.
Government needs to act now to reduce our province’s emissions and help low-income communities withstand the impacts of climate change.
Since being elected as your MLA in 2019, one of the issues facing our community close to my heart has been lead contamination in our soil.
Lead contamination can have harmful impacts on human health and our fight as a community to get the improvements we need is still ongoing.
Children under seven are most sensitive to lead exposure as their nervous systems are still developing. There can be irreversible effects on learning, behaviour, and intelligence. For adults, long-term lead exposure can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney problems and reproductive effects.
In Notre Dame, the field at Weston School on Logan Avenue was closed for three years over concerns about lead in the soil. In spring 2020, the field was re-opened with no work done and children were allowed to play on it. After one and a half years of further community organizing and raising this issue in the legislature, the government finally agreed to conduct remediation at Weston School, which is currently underway and expected to be complete before school starts this fall.
Two weeks ago, the Progressive Conservative government announced it is, yet again, moving forward with increasing Hydro rates on all Manitobans during the pandemic.
In addition to the 2.9 per cent Hydro rate increase in December 2020, the government is planning to increase rates by 2.5 per cent each year for the next three years, without an independent review from the Public Utilities Board.
This means that regular Manitobans — the folks in Notre Dame who own Manitoba Hydro — won’t be able to even explain how higher electricity bills will affect their families, and we won’t know whether Manitobans are being asked to overpay.
To make matters worse, the Public Utilities Ratepayer Protection and Regulatory Reform Act (Bill 35) will force the PUB to approve electricity rates in five-year intervals rather than annually and rate adjustments can be made at the minister’s discretion.
As a parent of two young boys, I am very concerned about the impact the Pallister government’s Bill 64, The Education Modernization Act, will have on public schools in the Notre Dame constituency.
One of the biggest changes is that Winnipeg School Division will no longer exist as it currently does. Instead, big decisions that have historically been made at the local level will now all be made by a ‘Provincial Education Authority’ that is politically appointed by the education minister.
One major concern with this massive change is that Winnipeg School Division and our community will lose control over programming offered at our schools that are specific to the needs of our families.
WSD provides nutrition programs, adult crossing guards, ‘walking’ school buses, WRENCH bike repair, adult literacy, parenting programs and more. The worry is that the fate of these programs lies with a provincially controlled authority that will not need to consult our community.
The Pallister government recently released its 2021 budget, which yet again fails to address Manitobans needs and the issues they face such as safe, affordable personal care homes and returning to work.
Several months after the Premier choked back tears at press conferences as he talked about the tragic deaths that occurred at Parkview Place and Maples, this budget was a real opportunity to remedy many of the problems our facilities face.
However, the 2021 budget seems to forget about PCH residents, as it does nothing to address the problems that caused the tragic outbreaks and deaths at PCHs we saw in fall, such as chronic understaffing, cleanliness and lack of funds. The funding in this budget doesn’t even keep pace with inflation. Our seniors deserve better than this so they can live with dignity and respect.
This budget also fails to provide supports for women and underrepresented groups in job recovery. I know many of my constituents could benefit from supports that help them get back to work like affordable, accessible public child care, so it’s unfortunate that this government hasn’t taken any meaningful action to help them and has instead frozen their funding for the fifth year in a row.
The Pallister government failed to release race-based and workplace COVID-19 data to Manitobans for months. Now that this data has been released, it’s confirmed what we already knew — people of colour, specifically Filipinos, have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Filipinos make up the largest share of COVID-19 cases compared to our share of the population in the province. The data also shows that Filipino women were more affected by the virus than other Filipino Manitobans. We currently represent 12 per cent of all COVID-19 cases, even though we only make up seven per cent of the provincial population.
Filipino Manitobans are not simply contracting COVID-19 due to individual behaviour, but largely due to the jobs they work. Many Filipinos, especially women, work in the health-care sector in housekeeping, as health-care aides, nurses, home-care workers, and personal-care home workers.
Additionally, many Filipinos work in food manufacturing, the service industry, as well as in the transportation sector. All these sectors have some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in Canada. Filipinos also tend to live in multi-generational households or in tight living quarters, which leads to easier spread of the virus.
As some of you may know, Weston School on Logan Avenue closed its sports field for three years waiting for results from the province’s commissioned report on lead-contaminated soil in Winnipeg.
That report made specific recommendations for the Weston School yard and sports field, including a lead prevention public awareness campaign, further soil testing, and a seasonal landscaping maintenance plan for school grounds and green spaces in the community.
Unfortunately, the sports field was re-opened afterwards without any of these recommendations being followed. We were told at the time (February 2020) by the province that the school field is safe to re-open and no work is necessary on the school grounds since it was only closed out of an “abundance of caution.”
Now, after a year of advocacy requesting the province to protect our community from lead exposure, there has finally been a tender posted by the Winnipeg School Division for a contract for a lead maintenance plan for landscaping the Weston School grounds which would include excavation and disposal of lead contaminated soils, replacement of clean fill and reinstallation of site elements.
While community outreach activities continue to be disrupted by COVID-19, we are excited to announce that we recently began setting up youth mentorships that virtually link youth with professionals over Zoom.
So far, we’ve set up three first-year University of Manitoba students - all graduates of Daniel McIntyre Collegiate - with mentors. The students expressed interest in medicine, psychiatry, psychology, addictions, mental health and youth so we found mentors who reflected these interests.
The mentors are health professionals, including a doctor in residence, a psychiatric nurse who specializes in working with youth and addictions, and a forensic psychologist who also specializes in working with youth.
The mentors share the education and career paths they took and what their day-to-day work is like. All three students are young Filipina women and their mentors also come from similar ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. This matching was done by design and allowed for more personal, in-depth exchanges between students and mentors as they explored topics like family, cultural expectations, and ways to find work and other opportunities to finance their university degrees.
The NDP recently introduced a motion in the legislature urging the government to immediately take over management of Revera’s long-term care homes such as Maples and Parkview, which I spoke on.
Long-term care homes across Manitoba have been overwhelmed by the second wave of the pandemic but the outbreaks at Revera’s for-profit facilities have been the worst by far.
It is no surprise that the worst outbreaks have been at Revera-owned and operated care homes as their staff, and residents and their loved ones all cited concerns with living conditions and understaffing even before the pandemic.
Unfortunately, owing to the pandemic, where there were cracks there are now holes.
Thanks to a deal struck by Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the federal New Democratic Party, the federal government recently announced its plan for national paid sick leave, which will be delivered through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. If you are sick, but can’t afford to take time off, you don’t have to compromise anymore — you can now stay home and continue earning money for you and your family, without repercussion from your employer.
How will Manitobans benefit? Manitoba workers who do not already receive paid sick leave from their employer will have access to $500 a week for up to two weeks total if they meet certain requirements, including being unable to work at least 50 per cent of their scheduled work week for one of several reasons. These reasons are:
You are sick with COVID-19 or may have COVID-19;You are advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by your employer, the government or a medical professional; orYou have an underlying health condition that puts yourself at greater risk of getting COVID-19, as advised by the government or medical professional.When can Manitobans access this benefit? Manitobans can apply right now up until Sept. 25, 2021.
To apply/for more information please visit the page titled Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit on the Government of Canada website: www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-sickness-benefit.html
If there can be any good to come of the deaths from COVID-19 of over 5,200 Canadian personal care home residents in the past few months; if there can be any good to come of the disintegration of elder care so graphically reported by the Canadian Armed Forces; and if there can be any good to come of this national disgrace, it has to start with the fact there is now widespread public awareness of the living conditions of our elders and the working conditions of those who care for them.
Many elders in our province live in crowded environments with two or three residents sharing a room. We know that these crowded conditions directly contribute to the spread of infectious diseases and, at worst, impedes on the dignity of privacy that contributes to everybody’s personal well-being.
According to researcher Sheila Novek of the University of Manitoba, this province has 126 personal care homes with 9,832 residents as well as over 1,000 seniors on wait lists for placements.
Right now, we can harness public will to focus our collective resources to create a coherent, humane system for our elders and the workers who care for them.
When I visit constituents in the community, the No. 1 concern I hear is pedestrian safety.
I have visited with seniors who have been hit by speeding drivers. I have heard about the issue from school principals who are worried about student safety during school pickup and drop-off times.
I have also heard about it from parents who are worried about their children’s safety while walking them to and from school.
The current default speed limit for residential areas in Winnipeg is 50 km/h. Studies have shown that 30 km/h is a safer speed limit when cars have to share road space with pedestrians.