Kinew Calls for ERs, Addictions Funding in Provincial Budget

January 21, 2019

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew met with Finance Minister Scott Fielding this afternoon to discuss the NDP’s vision for the upcoming 2019-2020 provincial budget.

Kinew raised several issues in the meeting and urged the Minister to scale back the austerity that has led to deep cuts in front line services. First and foremost, Kinew said, the Minister must cancel his plan to close two more emergency rooms in Winnipeg.

“The Premier’s rushed plan to close ERs not what Manitobans want. It’s straining our front line workers and putting patients at risk,” said Kinew. “But there is still time to abandon his plan and ensure families get the quality health care they deserve.”

For the second year in a row, Kinew urged the Minister to fund harm reduction initiatives that will combat addictions and improve treatment options. Since last year, ballooning meth use has led to outbreaks of blood-borne diseases and an increase in violent crime.

Kinew also pushed for a northern jobs plan that will support communities struggling to stay afloat in the face of mining job losses. The closure of the Vale smelter and refinery in Thompson has led to the loss of hundreds of jobs since December 2017. In November of 2018 HudBay Minerals announced their Flin Flon mine will cease operations, putting hundreds of jobs at risk over the coming two years.

“Our northern communities are in crisis mode,” said Kinew. “The province has to act fast to build a strong northern economy and good, reliable jobs for families.”

Kinew noted the Pallister government has begun its review of the province’s K-12 education system. He advised the Minister to use the review to improve outcomes for all students and strengthen supports for teachers and parents, rather than as justification for deep cuts. Kinew advocated for the restoration of a cap on early-years class sizes, in order to ensure every student gets the one-on-one attention they deserve.

Finally, Kinew urged the provincial government to lower utility bills for families by committing to keep Manitoba Hydro public. He expressed concerns the Premier is setting the stage for the privatization of Hydro and its subsidiaries.

“The Premier has taken clear steps towards privatization and has refused to be transparent about his plan. Hydro rates have already increased under this government and their plan to privatize will only make life more unaffordable for Manitoba families.”