Clear skies in Manitoba’s future

NDP’s election victory means new future for Manitoba

After a long fifteen-hour shift serving my beautiful province working for Elections Manitoba, enduring a paper cut and a nick from a pair of scissors, I came home to good news.

On Oct. 3, the 43rd General Election in Manitoba came to a thrilling end, and that’s when we heard: the Manitoba New Democratic Party (NDP) would form a majority government.

Well, to be fair, “good news” is an opinion until the NDP proves itself as leader of this province, but I am optimistic. Having won 34 out of the necessary 29 seats to secure a majority in the Legislative Assembly, the NDP finds itself in a comfortable position going forward.

Not only was the NDP victorious, but Dougald Lamont, leader of the Manitoba Liberals, and Heather Stefanson, leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives (PC), both stepped down as leaders of their respective parties.

Wab Kinew, leader of the NDP, has become the first Indigenous premier in Manitoban history since Anglo-Métis premier John Norquay was in office between 1878 and 1887, and the first First Nations premier in Canadian provincial history.

But enough talk about the elections, let us look at what the NDP has in store for Manitoba. A major piece of the NDP’s platform has been fixing the disastrous state of the health-care system brought about by the Conservative government led by ex-premier Brian Pallister, and more recently, Stefanson.

Within the realm of health care, the NDP promises to hire the 300 nurses cut by the PCs, construct three new emergency rooms in Winnipeg and hire and educate numerous additional health-care professionals such as doctors and nurses. If the NDP keeps true to these promises, the party could revolutionize health care in the province and save lives that would have been lost under the PCs’ tenure.

Having personally sat with my grandmother — who was experiencing severe pain — in Grace Hospital for 10 hours, I can attest that the health-care system in this province is in free fall.

The NDP also promises to build additional social housing and more affordable housing. The key terms are “social” and “affordable.” The 2021 Census showed that there is a discrepancy between the number of dwellings in Manitoba, 571,528, and the number of occupied dwellings, 518,054. Were the issue of homelessness in Manitoba simply a result of lack of homes to go around, the difference between these figures would be smaller.

Meanwhile, the PCs sold more social housing units than they even bothered building over the past 7 years.

On a moral level, one would hope that an empty home and a person lacking a home is an easy equation to solve. However, our society does not operate on what is most moral. Health care and housing are critical issues. Ideally, I would also like to think that keeping Manitobans alive is more important than the money saved on budget cuts and closures, but apparently, this has not been the case until now.

Every day that passes without these crises being resolved is a day a Manitoban’s life is at risk — or simply worse off — than it should ever have to be. The 2022 Health Status of Manitobans Report found that 13,699 Manitobans died potentially avoidable deaths between 2012 and 2016.

Furthermore, 1,256 Winnipeg residents experienced homelessness in 2022. These issues are both preventable and fixable. While not every death can be avoided and not every person can be taken off the street, there are clearly problems in this province that have simply not been addressed.

The PCs have brought us to the precipice of this crisis. You may feel that is simply because they are the victim of conditions greater than themselves or because they actively degraded these systems. My opinion is firmly the latter. Regardless of the cause, the PCs have failed to do anything about it, but the NDP has promised to at least try.

The NDP has numerous promises that I find exciting for several reasons. Some are devious ideological reasons — such as watching the province descend into communist NDP rule. Others are basic moral reasons, such as not wanting people to suffer needlessly. Of course, until the NDP proves itself on the battleground that is the Legislative Assembly, its promises are just that: promises.

Don’t get me wrong, the victory of the NDP over the PCs is major, and the election of an Indigenous premier is a victory in and of itself. But I will hold my applause until the NDP shows it is trying its best as the leader of our province and using its newfound power to help Manitobans.

That being said, I would prefer an ineffective progressive government over a conservative government frothing at the mouth looking at the potential financial gains of privatizing tap water.