The letter to the editor from Mr. Stuart Briese, Progressive Conservative MLA for Agassiz in the Oct. 25 issue of the Brandon Sun was a blanket condemnation of the provincial NDP government and its rural policies.
On one hand, Mr. Briese is critical of necessary government spending, but then objects when certain reorganizations occur to increase the overall efficiency of the delivery of services. For example, a large 69-page review of Manitoba’s EMS (Emergency Medical Services) was reported in the media early in 2013 recommending a reorganization of paramedic stations making it possible to establish a province-wide standard of response time of no more than 30 minutes for 90 per cent of the population, 90 per cent of the time.
It is also very ironic that Mr. Briese and his conservative caucus voted against the NDP legislation this past summer session which would dedicate funding for municipal infrastructure and ultimately, assist many rural communities.
Mr. Briese chooses to ignore several rural improvements recently being made, including the transformation of 16 rural chemotherapy sites into full Cancer Care Hubs. The Cancer Care Hubs increase support for rural families by ensuring faster access to testing and treatment.
Speaking of health care, what is most concerning is the decision by Stephen Harper to cut $36 billion to healthcare transfers to the provinces. Medicare would never have been created by the New Democratic Party if it wasn’t for a true partnership of both the federal and provincial governments. Our Medicare is a unique program that is governed by the federal Canada Health Act and delivered by the provinces, a responsibility of both the federal and provincial governments.
A $36-billion reduction of health transfers to the provinces will increase the likelihood of higher provincial/municipal taxes and lower provincial/municipal spending on health and other sectors such as education.
Mr. Briese’s scare tactics about nursing shortages is a weak attempt to fool people. I had the opportunity to attend the Manitoba Nurses’ Union annual general meeting as a guest this past April. I didn’t hear any concerns about shortages. On the contrary, it was stated that the morale in this profession is at an all-time high, compared to the cuts in the 1990s.
What is a main concern of Manitoban nurses is the fact that Harper is not renewing the Health Accord, set to expire in 2014, which would provide stable funding for healthcare.
Canada’s publicly funded health care is a defining feature of Canadians’ identity and values, something conservative policy doesn’t support.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 31, 2013