On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Manitoba’s task force on the growing backlog of surgeries and diagnostic tests announced their plans to address this crisis. While it’s good that something is being done, it’s important to remember that this is a mess made by this government’s yearslong assault on healthcare.
I’m as tired of beating this drum as any Manitoban who believes in public medicine. I’ve been writing about the Progressive Conservatives’ cuts to the province’s healthcare system since 2019. This issue is often framed around the COVID-19 pandemic: a system pushed to its breaking point by an unforeseeable calamity. But that’s only a sliver of the truth.
As this pandemic grows longer and longer, as story after story about Manitoba’s healthcare system get added to the ever-growing list, it’s imperative to remember that the PCs have cut healthcare jobs, shuttered emergency rooms and reduced numbers of beds, all because Brian Pallister wanted to cut a paltry $36 million from the provincial budget.
For reference, $36 million is roughly how much Winnipeg’s lucrative professional sports teams collect in tax breaks every two years.
Now, the province is sending patients to the United States, a country famous for a failing healthcare system, to receive backlogged surgeries. I am grateful these Manitobans will finally get the care they need. But don’t let this erase the fact that they’ve waited this long to receive that care because of the governing party’s utter lack of compassion.
Published in Volume 76, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 20, 2022)