Wab Kinew urges Pallister to freeze Seven Oaks ER closure until after election
Wab Kinew’s sole focus was health care as the Manitoba NDP leader hosted his party’s first election-style event outside the Misericordia Health Centre on Sunday morning.
“Today I’m calling on Brian Pallister to move his government into caretaker mode until September 10th,” Kinew said with over a dozen New Democrat candidates standing behind him.
Kinew wants the Pallister government to hold off on closing the emergency room at Seven Oaks Hospital.
The conversion from an ER to an urgent care centre was slated for September but has since been moved up to “sometime over the summer” according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
“The further we get from the closures to when we get a chance to form government, the more difficult it’s going to be to fix the damage that Brian Pallister is causing in the health care system,” said Kinew.
The premier has invoked a 90-day blackout on funding announcements ahead of the September 10 election, but Kinew says that’s not enough.
“If you’re serious about this election, then make this a real campaign period — enter caretaker mode. No more cuts and no more closures until the people of Manitoba have a chance to have their say.”
University of Manitoba political science professor Chris Adams says the election being held more than a year early is creating confusion among politicians and voters.
“We’re in a voluntary media blackout right now. It seems to be voluntary but not iron-clad and I think the opposition has a certain case to be made,” he said.
Adams says that by closing an emergency room this summer, the Pallister government would be breaking its self-imposed blackout period.
“If you’re going to make serious decisions during a 90-day blackout that means that you have to make announcements.”
Adams expects a guessing game surrounding proper pre-election procedures ahead of the writ being dropped.
Manitoba Liberal Party response
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont says holding off on the Seven Oaks Hospital ER closure isn’t enough. He wants to see it stay open permanently.
The 90-day announcement blackout came into effect on June 12 and with no hint on when the premier intends on dropping the writ, Lamont also says the rules leading up to this year’s election are unclear.
“This is part of the whole problem when the premier decides to ignore the law and make up all of his own rules,” says Lamont.
“We have a blackout period but it’s only supposed to happen when there is a fixed election date. The premier is ignoring that. This is the question when all of a sudden we have to ignore what the rules are when they should be very clear.”
The Liberals are already starting to make campaign promises of their own.
Just last week Lamont announced he would create a new provincial police force to put more officers in understaffed rural and remote areas if the Liberals get elected.
WATCH: Pallister to announce ‘blackout’ on provincial announcements
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