The Maples constituency report
Mintu Sandhu is the NDP MLA for The Maples.
Recent articles of Mintu Sandhu
The fourth session of Manitoba’s 42nd Legislature resumed on Sept. 28, but during the summer break I had the chance to come out to the community and meet some of you in The Maples at your homes and at community events.
Many of you raised concerns with me when we spoke, foremost being health care. People are waiting much longer in emergency rooms to see doctors. Health-care workers are being mandated with overtime, and people are waiting far too long to get necessary surgeries. Other concerns which many of you raised surround affordability — whether it’s the cost of groceries, gas, or the many other rising prices, Manitobans are struggling with these costs.
Thank you to all the people who opened their doors to talk to me. I want you to know that I am listening and will raise your issues in the legislature. Manitobans want to look forward to a brighter future, but under the Progressive Conservative government life is only getting more expensive.
Sept. 29 was the deadline to debate bills that we heard from the community were of concern to many Manitobans. As the opposition, we are allowed to delay consideration of several bills. This gives us an opportunity for more consideration of legislation and so that everyone can have their voices heard. These bills do several things. They set the stage to add costs to Manitoba Public Insurance ratepayers. They also remove the ban on cosmetic application of synthetic chemical pesticides that reduced the risk of exposure for everyone, including our kids and pets. They impact those on employment income assistance and their ability to appeal decisions made about their assistance. Last, the government has introduced Bill 36, The Manitoba Hydro Amendment and Public Utilities Board Amendment Act. This bill will allow Hydro rates to be effectively set at the cabinet table rather than through a neutral review by the Public Utilities Board. Instead, cabinet can set rate increases of up to five per cent. The bill also opens the door to privatization at Manitoba Hydro.
On behalf of The Maples constituency, I extend my cordial greetings to our Filipino-Canadian community for this year’s celebration of the 124th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence and the first Filipino Heritage Month in Manitoba. Bill 205, the Filipino Heritage Month Act was unanimously passed by the members of Legislative Assembly and the NDP proudly supported its passing.
I was happy to participate in various events held by organizations such as the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba, Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM), Manitoba Association of Filipino Teachers Inc. (MAFTI), Filipino Music and Arts Association of Canada and others. It was great to be able to rekindle old celebration and traditions after two years of not gathering.
The month-long cultural celebration was full of fun, food, and fantastic programs. This was also an occasion for me to learn more about Filipino culture and Filipinos contributions to our province.
I attended many different events throughout the month. I enjoyed attending the Pinays MB Recognition luncheon and mini cultural event at Maples Community Centre. On June 4, I was privileged to take part in the flag-raising ceremony and MAFTI cultural event at PCCM followed by The Philippine Independence Ball at the Marlborough Hotel. I also attended the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival and the cultural presentation at the Philippine Independence and Heritage Day Celebration on June 10 at Maples Collegiate. The Youth Recognition awards hosted by the Knights of Rizal at Waterford Green Village Centre was another highlight. On June 25, I also attended the Multi-Cultural Music & Arts Gathering for Peace, Healing & Reconciliation at the Maples Collegiate Student Commons, which was put on by Filipino artists.
I have been hearing from constituents about the importance of investing in our health-care system to ensure that Manitobans are able to get the care they deserve, close to home. As your MLA, I have been focused on the priorities of folks in the Maples. Unfortunately, Budget 2022 has shown us that the Progressive Conservative government has not learned from their mistakes as they continue to underfund health care.
Premier Stefanson’s budget continues Brian Pallister’s legacy of underfunding health care far below the rate of inflation. This has a real impact on people in the Maples. It means cuts to our hospitals, ERs, and frontline workers. The budget also maintains the freeze on operating funding to communities, making it harder to recover from the pandemic.
Manitoba is a growing province with growing needs. We know that Manitoba needs investments in health care to ensure every person can get quality care in a timely manner. We want to see our concerns around emergency response times addressed. Our team recently found that, in January, there were 588 instances in which an ambulance was not immediately available to respond to a call for service. There were a combined 28 hours that month during which no ambulance could immediately respond.
Unfortunately, the recent provincial budget leaves funding flat for emergency medical services. That’s not going to address the unacceptable growth in response times in Winnipeg and across the province.
The Ukrainian community in Manitoba has deep roots. Early Ukrainian settlers and recent newcomers have helped shape the social, political, and cultural landscape of our province and the Maples community. I, along with my NDP colleagues, strongly condemn Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
This unthinkable act of aggression is doing untold harm to the people of Ukraine and Russia. The attack on Ukraine as a sovereign state is a direct threat to rules-based international order and a threat to democracies across the world. My colleagues and I have stood alongside Ukrainian people at the rallies and recently attended Ukrainian Night hosted by the Dauphin Kings. My message to Ukrainian Manitobans is clear — we stand with you in your fight to defend your identity, homeland, and loved ones.
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. This is why the Manitoba NDP has been advocating for the protection of Ukraine and Ukrainians in the legislature.
We have been calling on the Progressive Conservative government to provide increased supports for local Ukrainian organizations in our province to help resettle those fleeing Ukraine, and to strike an all-party committee to direct Manitoba’s response to the Ukraine crisis. We put forward a resolution to condemn Russia’s violent invasion of Ukraine and support the federal government’s sanctions and efforts to help Ukraine maintain independence. The resolution received unanimous support from the entire assembly.
With 2021 coming to and end, my colleagues and I recognize that this has been another difficult year for all Manitobans. Every family in Manitoba has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in some form.
The commitments and sacrifices made by Manitobans, both during the holidays and throughout the year, are helping save lives and preparing us for a strong recovery in 2022.
Sadly though, the Pallister-Stefanson governments keep missing the mark throughout the pandemic — making life harder for you. We are now in the fourth wave of this pandemic and Manitobans are still experiencing difficulties, especially in the health-care system.
Nursing vacancies have reached unprecedented levels in Manitoba — 2,000 vacancies province-wide. Doctors Manitoba estimates that our surgical and diagnostic backlog has grown to 152,000 cases. Manitobans have died while awaiting surgery and many are living with chronic conditions that greatly limit their mobility and quality of life. This is horrifying.
It was nice to go out door-knocking recently in order to speak with the constituents of The Maples.
When I was out in the area, many constituents expressed concerns about the lack of oversight for residential cannabis grow operations, pointing out that cannabis stores operate under strict guidelines, restrictions, and oversight.
The residents of the Maples have seen their communities develop, thrive, and become very diverse and welcoming. However, in the last two years, we have also witnessed the sale of bungalows by older adults, who have had to downsize, to people who turn these homes into large-scale cannabis facilities.
Constituents have said we have to get these large-scale grow ops out of our neighbourhoods. We cannot allow a loophole in the city’s bylaws to allow cannabis cultivation facilities to be within residential neighbourhoods and properties.
As the pandemic still goes on, my colleagues and I recognize it has been such a difficult 18 months for all Manitobans. Every person, family, and community in Manitoba has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
During a time in which many Manitobans are already struggling, it is absolutely unacceptable for the Progressive Conservative government to approve plans that take more money away from families in The Maples.
Due to the actions of the PC government, Manitoban drivers have lost out on hundreds of dollars in insurance rebates. This is money that should have been given back to Manitobans but rather, the PC government believes taking away money from everyday Manitobans during a global pandemic is the right thing to do.
In secrecy, the PC government approved a plan to divert $113 million in excess Autopac revenue to cover driver and vehicle licensing costs. Driver and vehicle licensing is a non-insurance service delivered by Manitoba Public Insurance but paid for by the Manitoba government. Government funding for driver and vehicle licensing under the PCs has fallen short of its cost.
Families in The Maples want a government that is committed to strengthening health care and education and keeping life affordable. But the PC government has a different agenda — putting money ahead of people and cutting services families rely on.
Our NDP caucus is listening to Manitobans and fighting for you. That’s why we are calling on the government to withdraw the five bills we delayed from the last legislative session, including Bill 64. Unless they have the courage to kill the bills and set a new agenda, Manitobans can be sure that Pallister’s legacy will continue no matter who sits in the premier’s chair.
We delayed Bill 64 to give parents and school staff time to learn about the bill and fight back. Because of this, a vocal majority of Manitobans have publicly criticized the bill and signed up to speak at committee in record numbers. In addition to Bill 64, we delayed Bill 35 to keep Hydro bills low. We also delayed Bill 16, the government’s anti-worker bill that would erode worker’s fundamental rights, and Bill 57 which undermines Manitobans’ democratic rights to gather for peaceful protest. Lastly, we delayed Bill 40 to fight the addictions crisis and keep communities safe.
The government has let down families in the Maples for years. It supported the gutting of our health-care system — closing Seven Oaks ER, cutting acute care beds, and allowing dangerously high nursing vacancy rates. They voted to hike up Hydro rates during a pandemic — circumventing the Public Utilities Board. And when Manitoba was the only province in Canada to have to transport critically ill COVID-19 patients out of province, not one of them spoke out.
I want to say thank you to all nurses from The Maples who have contacted me in the last year and thanks to all nurses across Manitoba for the work they do each and every day.
Manitoba nurses have been without a contract for four years under the Pallister government.
The health-care system has continued to be underfunded since the government took power, and the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to exacerbate the lived experiences of nurses and all healthcare staff on the front lines. It is really simple — give nurses and health-care workers a meaningful contract.
If it weren’t for nurses and all other healthcare staff, we would have never survived the pandemic. Nurses have continued to put themselves at risk for the health and safety of Manitobans. Words will never suffice for the sacrifices of being on the front lines, but offering nurses a contract is one small thing the government can do to show that we honour their work and we stand them.
This year we are happy to join in the celebration of the 123rd Philippine Independence Day with Filipino community members here in the Maples. I am hopeful that we will be able to celebrate this day of independence with the Filipino community once again in 2022.
June 12 is recognized as Philippine Independence Day because it marks the nation’s independence from Spanish colonization on June 12, 1898. Further to this, the Philippines gained national sovereignty from the United States on July 4, 1946, through the Treaty of Manila. I hope families are still able to celebrate virtually with their loved ones.
The Filipino community has called Manitoba home for decades and has established deep roots in communities such as the Maples, as well as in rural Manitoba and elsewhere in Winnipeg.
Filipinos first came to Winnipeg in the 1950s and ’60s with folks working in the medical field as health-care professionals, teachers, and domestic workers. In decades following, many members of the Filipino community also worked in the technical and engineering fields, and in the garment industry.
Many Manitobans who rent in The Maples are those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic: single mothers, seniors, BIPOC, young people, and low-income Manitobans.
All have been left with few supports throughout the pandemic, such as no paid sick leave, and now the PCs are leaving them further behind.
Recently the PCs brought forward Bill 71 to phase out education property taxes, which will make life harder for Manitoba renters while benefitting landlords and wealthy Manitobans who own multiple properties.
Currently, renters are entitled to a $700 tax credit each year, but this will be phased out as a result of the government’s plan and renters will not qualify for the new rebate, only landlords will. In The Maples, many constituents are renters and have relied on this tax credit. Ending this means renters will lose out on hundreds of dollars that help with their expenses.
Manitoba educators have continued to show up for children in such significant ways, irrespective of the immense challenges they have faced in their personal and professional lives. We thank educators for their continued efforts in the classroom for all Manitoba children.
Educators deserve a government that matches these efforts. Even before the pandemic, educators wanted more investment into the improvement of schools by making class sizes smaller, increase mental health supports for kids in crisis, and develop stronger supports for kids with additional needs.
Maples constituents feel that the Pallister government is taking a step backward in education by centralizing decision-making through Bill 64 – The Education Modernization Act. This bill creates a completely new governance model for education in the province.
Bill 64 overhauls Manitoba’s public education funding model, interferes in collective bargaining units for educators and school staff, and lays the groundwork for deep service cuts and layoffs at schools. Decision-making at the local level will become centralized just to fit the plan of this government.
The last few weeks have been a time for people around the world to reminisce about how much our lives have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Folks in the Maples have expressed to me that it has been difficult for their kids to not see their friends for organized sports and for families to forego visiting their loved ones. They miss having small celebrations with co-workers and friends.
This has been a year to reflect on what is important in all of our lives, and try to overcome this together as Manitobans.
It has been incredibly frustrating, on top of these challenges, for Manitobans to have the Pallister government in power. Transparency and accountability are not its strongest suits.
Residents of The Maples are appalled by the Pallister government’s complete neglect of seniors at Maples Personal Care Home.
In November 2020, paramedics were called to Maples PCH after eight residents died from COVID-19 over a 48-hour period. My colleagues and I send our condolences to all families impacted by these fatalities.
We immediately called for the government to take over the centre so that residents would receive necessary medical care and families would know that there was adequate staffing for their loved ones. This request was completely ignored by the Pallister government, which voted down our motion and has still not taken over the facility.
The government failed residents in the Maples PCH time and time again. A report showed that the facility was understaffed, and requests for more health-care workers was ignored. As a result, residents’ care was severely compromised, with dozens suffering dehydration and malnutrition.
With 2020 coming to an end, my colleagues and I recognize it has been such a difficult year for all Manitobans. Every family in Manitoba has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way or another — through job security, health, education, among so many other repercussions of this pandemic.
My colleagues and I send condolences to all families impacted by the pandemic — we continue to keep you in our hearts and minds throughout the work we do as legislators.
We entered the COVID-19 pandemic on unstable ground due to consistent cuts from the Pallister government. Professionals in health and education were left to scramble to ensure Manitobans were safe and healthy throughout 2020.
The government continued to let down Manitobans, whether in its support for schools, health care, or families.
On Nov. 7, it was announced that there had been eight deaths within 48 hours at Maples Personal Care Home. Sadly, the number of deaths has continued to increase in the weeks since. My colleagues and I send our deepest condolences to all the families impacted.
Seniors and elders in Manitoba built this province into what it is today. Seniors and elders raised us and cared for us — it is now our job to ensure they are safe and healthy in their later years. The Pallister government has failed to initiate a strong and accelerated response to protect Manitoba seniors and elders who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is disheartening that families are only finding out about the death of their loved ones days later — a delay which Revera, the owner of Maples Personal Care Home, tries to blame on paperwork. Our seniors deserve better.
My colleagues and I have heard from many Manitobans who are residents of personal care homes or whose loved ones reside in personal care homes, and they are pleading with the Pallister government to take immediate and decisive action.
I have heard the concerns of many seniors and families in The Maples and across Manitoba that they are waiting too long outside for COVID-19 testing.
I recently talked to an 80-year-old woman from The Maples who waited more than two hours outside to get a test. Constituents in The Maples and across Manitoba are expecting a long-term COVID-19 strategy from the Pallister government — especially as we enter winter.
With hundreds of Manitobans being diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last few weeks, the government needs to fast-track appointment scheduling province-wide (not just in Winnipeg).
As Manitobans enter the winter months people cannot be expected to wait outside for COVID-19 testing — not every Manitoban has access to a car to make this process a bit more tolerable.
News of the impending closure of CancerCare Manitoba’s outpatient services at Concordia and Seven Oaks hospitals has been a disappointment to many residents in the north area of Winnipeg, including those in my constituency of the Maples.
The previous emergency department closures shocked many residents, and now additional essential services within the community are being moved further away from our homes.
Many constituents in the Maples are upset by this decision. Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson stated recently in a Winnipeg Free Press article that, “Nurses are deeply concerned about the announced CancerCare program transfers…This will not only affect CancerCare staff, including several nurses at the Concordia and Seven Oaks hospitals but also the patients from the surrounding catchment areas, including rural communities.”
CancerCare’s guiding principles mention that care can be received close to one’s home — this is no longer the case for residents who live in the Maples and need outpatient services and support.
Normally this time of year is exciting, albeit busy for families in The Maples. Children are looking forward to seeing their friends again, and parents are happy to get their kids back into a routine.
We all know that this year is very different. The excitement feels more like anxiety, and our new “routines” are not necessarily as comforting. Just a few days out from going back to school, my office continues to receive a lot of calls from concerned and confused families.
The provincial government had five months to prepare a back-to-school plan. In fact, teachers, parents, and administrators were eager to help early on. Yet, the government still chose to wait until the last minute, and flip-flopped on whether to mandate masks as teachers had asked for — so the question is, who were they really consulting with?
My team has called on the provincial government to do a better job of planning for back-to-school. This would include smaller class sizes to ensure physical distancing is possible, new money for the increased costs for schools and divisions is provided, and hiring more teachers.
This is a tough time for taxi services and there are many families in The Maples constituency who have been affected by recent hits to the industry.
First, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt taxi companies and drivers a hard and significant blow. This was especially apparent in March and April, when many companies reported up to an 85 per cent reduction in business.
Although we have moved into Phase Four of recovery and some people have started taking taxis again, business is still way down, and employees and their families are hurting. The recovery has been slow and will remain slow for the foreseeable future.
Second, my constituency office has been getting many calls regarding Uber’s arrival in Winnipeg. I have spoken with many of you on multiple occasions about your concerns regarding the standards the company is being upheld to.
As we continue to reopen our province, the novel coronavirus pandemic remains at the front of everyone’s mind.
We need to continue to be mindful and practise social distancing and good hand hygiene but equally important is spending time with family, friends and our community, even at a safe distance, for our mental health.
As your representative I want to go door-to-door and get to know the many great people who call The Maples their home and hear your concerns, comments and how can we can make The Maples the best place to live.
Even though I can’t knock on your door and talk to you in the same way I once would, I am walking different streets and visiting parks in the area to make sure I’m present and available to you to listen to your concerns for the area.
I want to acknowledge every single person in The Maples for doing their part to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s through wearing masks, practising social distancing, sanitizing and washing hands, and wiping frequently used surfaces — you have helped to flatten the curve.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted many businesses and the taxi industry has not been spared. On May 13, I raised this issue as a grievance at the legislature. The provincial government has failed to adequately support this essential industry. The pandemic has had the greatest impact on front-line and essential workers. But it has also affected the taxi industry.
Taxi services have continued to run as normal to ensure that people get to their destinations safely. Taxi companies and drivers have risked their lives daily as they deliver quick, reliable and timely service to people across Manitoba. Between trips they wipe down and sanitize seats to make sure that customers have a safe ride.
In addition to this hard work, taxi drivers continue to work 12-hour shifts on a daily basis. Throughout the pandemic they have been expected to meet office and insurance expenses which have not been reduced or subsidized by the provincial government.