September 6, 2017

Winnipeg, MBFor more than two decades, whether the PCs or the Manitoba NDP were in power, there has been precious little difference for Manitobans when it comes to health care. 


Having promised to protect front-line services, the Pallister government is making deep cuts to health care services. Many are indiscriminate - with mandated 10% to 15% cuts.


ERs are being closed, rural ambulance services are being shuttered, physiotherapy and vocational therapy are being privatized, women’s health services are being closed, and nurses, doctors and others are being forced to reapply for their jobs.


The current plan for closing ERs in Winnipeg was originally developed by the Manitoba NDP, who now oppose it. This is also true for the closing of rural ambulance services. The Manitoba NDP announced it while in government, the PCs have implemented it, and now the Manitoba NDP oppose it.


These haphazard cuts and the hypocrisy of both parties show the desperate need for a new way of politics in Manitoba.


One of Manitoba’s biggest health care problems is that we have a massive, unaccountable health care bureaucracy separate from government: The Regional Health Authorities (RHAs). And the blame for the RHAs’ existence falls squarely on the shoulders of Brian Pallister and the PCs.


In the 1990s, Brian Pallister was a key member of the Filmon PC cabinet that decided to fix health care by creating a new string of huge, unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies working at arm’s length from government, in order to centralize power and take it away from local communities.


As with so many other PC policies, when elected, the Manitoba NDP simply left them on autopilot.


The crisis in our health care system is not just because of money. The excuse that we face “fiscal constraints” is untrue, because our fiscal situation has been made $150-million worse by the PCs decision to cut taxes for the wealthiest Manitobans.


The crisis in our health care system is because there is no accountability. The PCs took control and resources away from people who could be held accountable.


The current system can’t be salvaged. Adding elected board members, as my Liberal colleague Dr. Jon Gerrard has suggested, is not the answer nor are Pallister’s indiscriminate cuts to RHA budgets across the board.


We will dismantle the RHAs and return control of the health care system to the Provincial Health Ministry, as well as to local communities, hospitals and health units.


The province will maintain some of the bulk purchasing power and economies of scale of RHAs, but administration will be with local communities.


Specialization for medical centres will continue - a decision that will be up to Manitoba Health - but if community hospitals want to re-open ERs or urgent cares, they will be able to do so.


The focus of our new way is on the provision of and resources for front-line services.


Manitoba needs a new way and a better choice than the PCs and Manitoba NDP, who pretend to be different while continuing and expanding each other’s policies. #OurNewWay is about building a party that is practical, progressive and credible. And a party Manitobans can feel good voting for.

This is #OurNewWay. Be part of it.

Lamont: Dismantle Regional Health Authorities, Return Health Care to Community & Provincial Control
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