Prairie Outpost

A website for the Prairie Outpost podcast as well as Dylon's writings

Prairie Outpost Episode 5: Manitoba’s May reopening & more

Image Credit: NordNordWest/Wikimedia

On the latest episode of Prairie Outpost, Dylon and Willis have a lot to talk about.

    • Active cases of COVID-19 falling in Manitoba on April 24 (Story).
    • Manitoba’s ban on non-essential travel to northern communities (story): First Nations in Manitoba and elsewhere have instituted their own states of emergency and lockdowns. Misipawistik Cree Nation was calling for a provincial checkpoint on highway 6 (which runs through the Nation) in early April. Come mid April the Province restricted non-essential travel from southern Manitoba to remote and northern communities, all above the 53rd parallel.
    • Manitoba’s Plan to begin reopening non-essential businesses May 4 (link): Manitoba plans to reopen businesses starting May 4th. Sooner than some expected. This includes retail businesses, which can operate at occupancy of “50 per cent of normal business levels”. A recent press conference has only allowed one question per reporter (as opposed to one question and a follow up, as was the case before). Lot of info to obtain, but Manitoba’s initial roll-out of public health measures were in line with the expert consensus so we hope this reopening plan is also evidence-informed.
    • Manitoba’s do little approach to aid: Manitoba has done little when it comes to financial aid for those affected by COVID-19 related income loss. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has argued that he does not want to duplicate support the federal government is already providing. Thanks in part to progressive voices in the minority parliament like the NDP, the federal support package has been substantial. Nevertheless, the Manitoba Government has done very little in areas of provincial jurisdiction, like rental housing, to provide direct financial support. When it comes to businesses, however, the Manitoba Government has shifted course and is now providing some aid for businesses.
    • Manitoba spending cuts: In addition to doing little aid during the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, Pallister has also proposed cuts to public services. With a collective agreement with a layoff protection clause about to end, Pallister has said that areas outside the core provincial civil service, in the MUSH sector (Municipalities, Universities, School Boards, and Hospitals) still need senior management trimmed. The Province has asked universities to prepare scenarios for 10, 20 or 30% spending cuts despite increased demand for university e-learning during the pandemic. The Premier has recently said that he doesn’t expect any cuts to universities to approach anywhere near 10%.
    • Cutting Public Sector Hours: Pallister also wants to cut hours for provincial public sector workers who will be deemed non-essential. The Premier wants to cut these workers to two days a week and for three days a week said workers would collect Employment Insurance through the Federal Government’s workshare program. The EI workshare program is only eligible for private sector employees. Experts like Dr. Tammy Schirle believe the Federal Government would be very reluctant to take on enormous burden of extending the workshare program to the public workforce.
    • Pallister says we’re “fighting against” federal aid for workers: During the April 29th press conference, in which the province discussed its plans to implement phase one of reopening in May, Pallister said the province was “fighting against a federal program” that pays people not to work. This was in reference to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which provides $2,000 a month to deal with income loss from COVID-19 related disruption. Given CERB was a life saving program that allowed physical distancing necessary to beat the virus, we consider just how appalling the Premier’s statement is.

Interested in these topics? Check out the full episode!


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