PCs Must Act Fast to Curb Third Wave & New Variants Targeting the Young

April 12, 2021

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of Métis Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba - Manitoba Liberals are calling for quick and aggressive action to stem a third wave of Covid-19 in Manitoba, including tougher public health orders targeted to sites and hot spots where there are high case counts, vaccinations for residents in acute care hospitals, and delivering more care to seniors at home to ensure that they are safe.

In the last week, from April 3rd to April 10, the percentage of people testing positive for Covid has nearly doubled from 3% to 5.9%, and the highest number of daily cases since January.

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface said the province needs to change direction again - especially since new, highly infectious Covid strains are affecting younger populations. In Minnesota, 70% of the cases are under the age of 65.

"A year ago, the most serious impacts were on people over 60. That is changing, and our response needs to change too," said Lamont. "We need to look at strict shutdowns targeted to sites and hot spots where there is evidence of vaccine spread, new income and revenue support measures, a better vaccine rollout, and protecting schools, staff and children."

Manitoba Liberals say that all workers and residents in acute care hospitals need to be vaccinated, and that the government needs to broaden its vaccination efforts to use hospitals as sub-sites. They have heard that there are hospitals that have existing vaccine storage facilities and doctors who could be vaccinating residents that are not being used.

"The PCs have set up a vaccine delivery system based on what is convenient for them, not on what works for Manitobans," said Dr. Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal Health Critic. "We need to be doing everything we can to provide care for people safely at home - vaccinations as well as other health supports - so they can keep away from Covid."

Manitoba Liberals are calling for:

  • Moving to tougher restrictions, including possible school closures, where there is evidence of high case counts
  • Vaccinating everyone in acute care facilities, especially the vulnerable
  • Using hospitals that have vaccine storage and medical staff as satellite vaccine distribution sites, instead of forcing people to supersites.
  • Sending mobile vaccination crews to 55+ seniors facilities, and to senior's homes where they are shut in
  • Ramping up use of homecare services, including the self-managed care program to keep people treated, healthy and out of hospitals and personal care homes
  • Creating a "standby list" like Saskatchewan's, to call people for shots if there is leftover vaccine at the end of each day
  • An awareness campaign across all media about new variants, how they are different, and who they affect

Cindy Lamoureux, Manitoba Liberal Seniors Critic, says one of the most important asks is to step up inspections and oversight across the health care system and long-term care facilities.

"We know there were years of problems with inspections in long term care homes and now we are hearing some very disturbing stories about overcrowding in hospitals that have to be addressed" said Lamoureux. "The PCs have to be willing to act as fast as we did a year ago, or we are going to see a repeat of what happened in November."

Throughout September and October of last year, the Manitoba Liberals warned that more aggressive measures needed to be taken when the province was in Code Orange, including harder shutdowns, school closures, business supports, testing, and rapid response teams for personal care homes. The PCs ignored warnings, resulting in the worst second wave response and second worst mortality rate in Canada.

"We do not want a repeat of what happened last fall, because the PCs appear to have learned nothing," said Lamont. "We can prevent people from getting sick and we can save lives by acting swiftly and decisively now."

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