Manitoba Budget Obsolete: PCs Must Release Economic Update with Funding for Health, Businesses and Workers

March 18, 2020

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals are calling, again, for the Pallister Government to deliver an economic update on what the province will do to invest in health care and provide emergency support for workers and businesses who are at risk of losing everything due to the COVID-19 Pandemic shutdown.

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the PCs budget, no matter what it contains, is effectively obsolete at this point. The budget has been held up for a full week by NDP filibustering because the PCs tried to use the budget as a cover to introduce a series of bills - many of which are changing laws around education, labour and development before major reports have been presented.

"Many things have changed in the last week and the PCs need to explain what they are doing to put money into training, pandemic preparedness, and making sure Manitoba businesses and workers aren't left out in the cold," said Lamont.

Manitoba Liberals say that immediate investments in health care and training to fill critical gaps need to be announced now, as well as fiscal measures to cushion the blow for workers and business who are facing weeks of shutdowns.

Media reports showed that Manitoba has shortages of ICU nurses as well as respiratory therapists, who actually manage respirators that can keep COVID-19 patients alive.

"The PC's cuts have brutalized the health care system and left huge gaps in ICU nurse and respiratory therapists, so the government needs commit money now to make sure the health system is ready if COVID-19 cases keep doubling," said Manitoba Liberal Health Critic Jon Gerrard. "We need a plan within 48 hours to fill that gap to make sure there are adequate respiratory therapists should there be a spike in ICU cases in 3 to 12 weeks."

Every day in the Legislature since the Pandemic was declared, Manitoba Liberals have called for an emergency debate on COVID-19. The NDP and PCs have both refused to let the debate take place, with the NDP choosing to filibuster on points of privilege. The two parties have refused to compromise, so that Manitoba is one of the only jurisdictions that has not released any economic plan to deal with the pandemic.

"It speaks to the dysfunction in these two parties that, at a time of local, national and international crisis, because the NDP and PCs cannot or will not compromise, that the legislature has been unable to work for a week," said Lamont.

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