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New St. Boniface Hospital ER part of PC's $2-B health care spending promise

The Progressive Conservatives have pledged a new state-of-the-art emergency department for St. Boniface Hospital as part of a promise to spend an additional $2 billion on health over the next four years.

PC Leader Brian Pallister said Wednesday the new ER would cost an estimated $90 million.

He said the additional $2 billion would be earmarked both for capital projects and annual spending increases in the Health Department.

Pallister said the new funding "guarantee" would allow the health system to reduce emergency wait times, increase hip, knee and cataract surgeries, and perform more MRIs and CT scans.

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The Progressive Conservatives have pledged a new state-of-the-art emergency department for St. Boniface Hospital as part of a promise to spend an additional $2 billion on health over the next four years.

PC Leader Brian Pallister said Wednesday the new ER would cost an estimated $90 million.

He said the additional $2 billion would be earmarked both for capital projects and annual spending increases in the Health Department.

Pallister said the new funding "guarantee" would allow the health system to reduce emergency wait times, increase hip, knee and cataract surgeries, and perform more MRIs and CT scans.

"This (funding) guarantee is a reflection of our enduring commitment to improving health care. This is our No. 1 priority," the PC leader said.

Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister said his party's $2-billion health-care funding plan would allow the health system to reduce emergency wait times, increase hip, knee and cataract surgeries, and perform more MRIs and CT scans. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister said his party's $2-billion health-care funding plan would allow the health system to reduce emergency wait times, increase hip, knee and cataract surgeries, and perform more MRIs and CT scans. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

At a news conference in a park across from St. Boniface Hospital, Pallister did not say how much of the $2 billion would be spent on operating costs and how much would be used for hospital renovations, new personal care homes and other capital expenses. A precise breakdown will be released when the PCs unveil the details of their fully costed election platform, he said.

On the campaign trail

Selby's role questioned: The Progressive Conservatives have been critical of former NDP cabinet minister Erin Selby's role in the election campaign, saying it proves that the New Democrats, under Wab Kinew, have little new to offer. Selby, who works for UFCW Local 832 and is not running for office, has acted as a spokeswoman for the NDP during the election. On Wednesday, she provided party reaction to the PC health announcement. The Tories say as one of five rebel cabinet ministers who challenged Greg Selinger's leadership, Selby helped plunge the former government "into a state of internal chaos." Selby says she's serving as campaign spokesperson because she's a longtime party member who is well aware of what the NDP stands for. By answering media questions, she says, she's allowing NDP candidates more time on the campaign trail.

Selby's role questioned: The Progressive Conservatives have been critical of former NDP cabinet minister Erin Selby's role in the election campaign, saying it proves that the New Democrats, under Wab Kinew, have little new to offer. Selby, who works for UFCW Local 832 and is not running for office, has acted as a spokeswoman for the NDP during the election. On Wednesday, she provided party reaction to the PC health announcement. The Tories say as one of five rebel cabinet ministers who challenged Greg Selinger's leadership, Selby helped plunge the former government "into a state of internal chaos." Selby says she's serving as campaign spokesperson because she's a longtime party member who is well aware of what the NDP stands for. By answering media questions, she says, she's allowing NDP candidates more time on the campaign trail.

Nominations continue: The Progressive Conservatives announced late Wednesday they have nominated a full slate of candidates, becoming the second party to do so after the NDP. The 57 PC nominees include 22 women and the "most diverse slate of candidates in the party's history," according to a news release. The final five Tory nominations were in core-area Winnipeg constituencies: Notre Dame, Point Douglas, St. Johns, Union Station and Wolseley. The Elections Manitoba's website says the Liberals have 42 candidates nominated, the Greens 18, and the Communists five. Three other candidates are running as independents.

Under questioning, Pallister said he envisioned annual health budget spending increases of "a little over two per cent." At another point, asked if the additional $2 billion would be split evenly between capital and operating money, he said that characterization was "not far off."

The budget for the health department is $6.6 billion this year.

The PCs say a new St. Boniface Hospital emergency department would reduce wait times through better design, which would improve patient flow, and more room for clinical staff to work.

In June, the hospital had to temporarily redirect some patients from the ER when a large backup of admitted patients awaiting beds clogged the department while a number of other critically ill patients were being treated. An emergency room physician later told the Free Press he was alarmed by what he had witnessed.

Karen Dunlop, chairwoman of the board of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said a new emergency department at Manitoba's second-largest hospital is badly needed.

Karen Dunlop, chairwoman of Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Karen Dunlop, chairwoman of Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

"We've needed one for 20 years. It's a great day for Manitobans," said Dunlop, who attended the Tory news conference.

She said she was also pleased to hear the PCs' overall funding pledge.

"It’s helpful to be able to budget over multiple years, quite frankly," she told reporters.

NDP promises free parking near hospitals

Click to Expand
MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS						</p>																	<p>NDP Manitoba Leader Wab Kinew promises that his party would make parking at hospitals free for the first two hours if they are elected to government.						</p>
MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

NDP Manitoba Leader Wab Kinew promises that his party would make parking at hospitals free for the first two hours if they are elected to government.

Posted: 14/08/2019 4:17 PM

Manitoba's New Democrats say hospital patients and their loved ones should be focused on their health and not parking fees.

The NDP has promised to give Manitobans two hours of free parking at surface lots and parkades near hospitals provincewide, if elected on Sept. 10.

Read Full Story

Dunlop said the renovations the hospital recently did to the emergency department were seen as temporary.

"It was carefully budgeted, strategically planned. The renovations were for the areas that were most needed, but the plan has always been to… build the necessary new (emergency department) for St. Boniface," she said.

The NDP and the Liberals were skeptical about whether the Progressive Conservatives would follow through with their $2-billion funding commitment, saying the government has consistently under-spent its health budget since taking office in 2016.

"It's a bait and switch on the part of the government. They promise big spending and then it never materializes," Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said.

He also noted that while Pallister was talking about spending increases of about two per cent, Ottawa was committing annual three per cent increases in health transfers plus additional funding for mental health and home care.

Pallister's response to that criticism is that Ottawa's share of health care spending has dropped to about 20 per cent compared with 25 per cent formerly.

NDP spokeswoman and former cabinet minister Erin Selby said the PCs will either fail to make good on their funding promise or institute a "health care tax" to pay for it.

LARRY KUSCH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

NDP spokeswoman and former cabinet minister Erin Selby said the PCs will either fail to make good on their funding promise or institute a "health care tax" to pay for it.

NDP spokeswoman Erin Selby, a former health minister, said the PCs would either fail to make good on their funding promise or institute a "health care tax" to pay for it, an assertion the governing party has denied.

Selby noted that, two years ago, the Pallister government's wait times task force said that St. Boniface Hospital's ER lacked the capacity to handle the overflow from Seven Oaks and Concordia ERs, should they be shut down. Both ERs were closed in recent months.

"They're committing to a project (new St. B ER) they should have done before they started closing ERs," Selby said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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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