A group of current and former prominent Manitobans is urging Premier Brian Pallister to take "extreme action" to avoid the kind of COVID-19 crisis unfolding in Ontario hospitals.
In a letter signed by dozens of high-profile Manitobans — including Olympic medallist Clara Hughes, musician Fred Penner and former northern grand chief Sheila North — the group is calling on the premier to bring in strict public health orders to ward off a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
"It is clear that there is a final window of opportunity for Manitobans to blunt the impact of what is about to happen," the letter says. "It will only get worse without immediate action."
The letter was also signed by several prominent Manitoba lawyers and professors, including University of Manitoba virologist Dr. Jason Kindrachuk. Manitoba senators Mary Jane McCallum and Marilou McPhedran are also signatories.
"Every day that the province waits to take extreme action condemns some of our fellow Manitobans to die," the letter, which was sent to Pallister Thursday evening, says. "We urge you to look into your heart and reflect on your deeper ethical and moral obligations to protect the lives of the citizens you serve."
Dr. Jillian Horton, an internal medicine physician who works at the Health Sciences Centre, was one of several people who organized the letter. She said Manitobans don’t have to look further than Ontario to see how fast the pandemic can take a turn for the worse.
"We are in for a terrible surprise — the worst part is it’s not a surprise," she said in an interview.
Horton said the premier’s comments Thursday that doctors may not appreciate the full economic impact of lockdowns is a false narrative.
"It’s an intentional distraction," she said. "I expect better from our elected leaders."