‘The status quo is not sustainable’: Manitoba premier says throne speech ignored healthcare funding concerns

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s premier said the federal government’s throne speech on Wednesday ignored concerns regarding healthcare and funding.

“Our population is aging, the need for healthcare was increasing before COVID-19, wait times as measured compared to 20 years prior, were double and triple what they were 20 years prior – before COVID,” Pallister said.

He said now with the pandemic, there are all types of additional needs across the country that have to be addressed.

“There’s a fundamental imbalance in the current health funding arrangement,” the premier said.

“The status quo is not sustainable.”

He added every premier across the country has identified healthcare and its funding as the number one priority. Pallister said this issue was completely ignored in the throne speech.

“I understand this federal government is a minority government,” he said. “I understand the challenges they face, the temptation to be all things to all people.

“But the fact remains there are foundational issues that must be addressed in our country and that will worsen if not addressed.”

The premier noted all levels of government need to work together during a pandemic.

He said “the foundations matters” and that Canada’s “healthcare system is foundational to our society.”

Pallister said wait times will continue to escalate if the federal government doesn’t renew its responsibility as a partner in funding healthcare.

“The reason one invests so significantly in a foundation under their home when they’re involved in a home construction project or in their business when they build a building is because everything rests upon it, everything depends upon it,” he said.

Pallister’s criticism comes after he said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about getting the federal government to commit to additional healthcare funding. To those though may say his efforts failed, he said “the battle may be over, but the war will go on.”

Pallister said he heard repeatedly in the throne speech that now is not a time for austerity.

“I would agree, but I hope they understand it’s also not a time for profligacy,” he said.

Pallister said he would say to the federal government that now is the time to invest in people, but invest with a focus.

“Invest on the fundamentals,” he said.

“Invest on eliminating trade barriers across our country so we can create jobs together as a family. Invest in infrastructure, shovel-ready and shovel-worthy projects so that we can build something together.”

He noted he was also disappointed not to hear any reference to paid sick leave for people that have had to leave work due to concerns regarding COVID-19.

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