On the last Sunday before the provincial election, Manitoba’s NDP released a confidential document that it says shows Premier Brian Pallister hired high-priced consultants to write his plan to cut health care over the next five years.
Before a press conference outside Seven Oaks Hospital — where the emergency room was changed to an urgent care centre this summer — the NDP sent out a news release saying a provincial plan meant to guide health care changes for the next five years was written by Deloitte LLP consultants and is being kept "secret" until after Tuesday’s vote because it means more cuts.
"To me, it’s disrespectful to voters in Manitoba that Brian Pallister is continuing to make plans to cut health care even before you’ve had a chance to cast your vote and to send him a message that you want him to stop with theses cuts," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said surrounded by party candidates and their supporters.
According to Manitoba Health’s latest "transformation management update," a draft clinical and preventative services plan (CPSP) was completed in June of this year, the NDP release said.
"We know that Mr. Pallister’s already announced he’s going to cut $625 million from health care and education," Kinew told the crowd outside the hospital Sunday. "All we’re calling on him to do now is to tell tell us where these cuts are going to be. Are we going to lose more emergency rooms? Are we going to lose more nurses? Because I think the people of Manitoba ought to know."
Kinew and the NDP are "clueless" about health care and "desperate" in the final days of the election campaign, the PC Party of Manitoba said Sunday. The NDP has resorted to launching "fearmongering attacks that have zero connection to the truth," the PCs said in an email. "They want to take us backwards, when emergency wait times were 25 per cent longer."
We’ve got the nurses, we’ve got the doctors — we’ll listen to them and their expertise... We’ll fix health care but it will be a made in Manitoba plan to deliver health care for Manitobans.” — Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew
The province, it said, has issued many news releases about the clinical and preventative services plan which more than 200 health care professionals and clinical experts have worked on in the past year to improve patient care and outcomes. "An accounting firm won a public request for proposals to incorporate all these expert opinions into one report... a relatively routine practice, no matter the political stripe.", the PC email said.
Kinew said Sunday that the last time the Pallister government hired a consulting firm to review health care, three emergency rooms were closed in Winnipeg. The NDP isn’t against change and wants to modernize the health care system, he said.
"The thing that we’re going to do differently is we’re not going to hire these huge consulting firms like Deloitte to come in from out of province and tell us how to close an emergency room like Seven Oaks," Kinew said. "We don’t need that. We’ve got the nurses, we’ve got the doctors — we’ll listen to them and their expertise... We’ll fix health care but it will be a made in Manitoba plan to deliver health care for Manitobans."
The PCs are expected to retain a majority government, according to a Mainstreet Research poll conducted last week. It said the PCs are poised to win between 32 and 35 of the 57 seats in the legislature, with just 29 seats needed for a majority.
The poll results show among decided and leaning voters, the runner-up NDP have 34 per cent of support to the PCs’ 43 per cent. Kinew said Sunday he’s convinced more Manitobans share the party’s values and will vote for the NDP.
"You have Brian Pallister who wants to bring about more cuts to health care and close emergency rooms like the one that we’re standing in front of here today, or you can vote for our team, the Manitoba NDP (with) a strong, fresh slate of new candidates with smart exciting ideas to fix health care, create good jobs and bring about an affordable quality of life here in Manitoba."
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.