December 7, 2019

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Meth treatment, midwives and MPNP: what the parties promised today

Progressive Conservative candidate Cliff Cullen promised to create 12 new treatment and waiting spaces for drug users experiencing drug-induced psychosis if the party is re-elected next month.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/KELLY MALONE

Progressive Conservative candidate Cliff Cullen promised to create 12 new treatment and waiting spaces for drug users experiencing drug-induced psychosis if the party is re-elected next month.

THE Progressive Conservatives say, if re-elected, they would expand the emergency department at Health Sciences Centre to deal with patients suffering from meth psychosis and other mental health and addictions issues.

The expansion would see the addition of six seclusion rooms and six holding rooms for such patients, Spruce Woods PC candidate Cliff Cullen said Thursday.

Renovations would cost between $6 million and $7 million, while staffing costs would come out of existing budgets, Cullen said.

The PCs say establishing a dedicated area staffed by mental health professionals would improve patient flow in the emergency department while reducing the need to place impaired, disruptive and potentially violent patients in the general waiting room or in emergency department beds alongside other patients.

Cullen could not provide a target date for the completion of the renovations. "We recognize that this is an urgent issue so we will be moving ahead as quickly as we possibly can," he said.

Earlier this month, the Conservatives announced the establishment of an acute medical sobering unit staffed with mental health officials that would treat between 20 and 30 patients at a time. The new HSC mental health spaces would be the first step in the process to get those suffering from meth addiction off the streets and on a path towards recovery, with "medically suitable patients taken to the sobering unit," the PCs said.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew criticized the PC plan, saying his party has presented a better alternative, one that doesn’t treat clients in a hospital setting, pulling resources from other patients. The NDP would partner with Main Street Project, he said, to deliver a protective care area where somebody who’s suffering from meth psychosis could be taken. 

Meanwhile, Premier Brian Pallister was in Thompson Thursday, where he announced a number of justice-related issues, with a price tag of $12 million.  The campaign promise included renovations to a courthouse, and the addition of two RCMP officers to crack down on drug crime and violence.


NDP Manitoba leader Wab Kinew along with Wolseley candidate, Lisa Naylor announce that the NDP party would provide better access to midwives.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

NDP Manitoba leader Wab Kinew along with Wolseley candidate, Lisa Naylor announce that the NDP party would provide better access to midwives.

Manitoba’s New Democrats say that, if elected, they would immediately hire six midwives, three lactation consultants and provide free menstrual products for pre-teens and teenagers in schools.

NDP leader Wab Kinew made his latest election pledge to improve women’s health care at Scout Coffee in Wolseley Thursday, surrounded by mothers and sometimes-crying babies.

Kinew estimated his party’s proposals would cost the public purse about $1.2 million per year — $800,000 for the six midwives, $300,000 for the lactation consultants and $82,000 for the menstrual products, which would be distributed in free dispensary machines in schools.

"This is about turning the tide," he said. "It’s about smart, responsible, judicious investments that we can make in women’s health to start to undo the damage Mr. (Brian) Pallister has caused and send a signal to midwives that we value their services and we want them to work in Manitoba."

In a written statement, Tory MLA Rochelle Squires, who is running for re-election in Riel, said the free menstrual product promise would cost at least quadruple what the NDP estimated. She accused the NDP of bungling the midwifery program while in government, "spending millions to graduate only eight students in eight years."

Squires said the Tories would have more to announce on new women’s health initiatives later in the campaign.


Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party makes a policy announcement alongside Liberal candidate for The Maples Deep Brar outside Brar’s campaign headquarters Thursday afternoon.

SASHA SEFTER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party makes a policy announcement alongside Liberal candidate for The Maples Deep Brar outside Brar’s campaign headquarters Thursday afternoon.

The Manitoba Liberals pledged to start a new family reunification stream in the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, if elected, though that would require negotiating with their federal counterparts.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said his party would want to welcome the same number of immigrants through the MPNP program as the previous government — which brought in about 5,500 in 2018 — but couldn’t say how many nominees they would take in from each program stream, which would include skilled workers, business investors and family members.

"It’s also a question of how many people actually apply. So, we’ll have to see," Lamont said.

The Grits would also remove the $500 administration fee the Progressive Conservative government announced in 2016 for MPNP applicants. Lamont likened the fee to a "head tax" and said it’s brought in about $2 million per year to provincial coffers that was supposed to be spent entirely on immigration services, but hasn’t been.

"It’s not just. It’s not fair," he said of the additional cost.

The Liberals haven’t released a fully-costed campaign platform yet, and Lamont couldn’t say Thursday whether his party would do so before advance polls begin next week.

Manitobans vote on Sept. 10.

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski
Legislature reporter

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Read full biography

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Read full biography

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