Brian Pallister needs to get his head out of the sand. Fast. And when he dusts himself off, his first order of business should be to scrap Budget 2020.  It’s not going to do us a lick of good as we all battle through the Covid-19 crisis.

His strategy to deal with the social and economic impact of Covid-19 seems to be based on some alternate reality that his government can coast along with its austerity plan. This is completely out of sync with the interventionist approach that other governments are taking. His idea of  “we will get through this together” appears to rely on the use of volunteers through the Help Next Door app, and to point to existing programs that are woefully insufficient, in fact scaled back by his government in recent years, to meet the urgent and immediate needs of the growing number of Manitobans who are seeing their incomes and savings quickly disappear.

When asked yesterday about the possibility of an emergency basic income scheme, he dismissed the concept.  This, the premier said, is known as “the helicopter approach” — dumping money out of a helicopter flying above a crowd — and it would not be the correct course of action at this time.

This, Premier Pallister, is exactly the kind of action we need right now.

Manitoban’s should be calling on the Premier to scrap his budget and change course now.  Here are few things that he can do to support Manitoban’s.

  1. Cancelling plans to cut all proposed tax cuts, including the PST.  By its own estimates, the PST alone would give the government some $270 million to help Manitoban’s in desperate need.
  2. Supplement the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit .  He can do this by expanding the scope of Rent Assist so that more Manitoban’s can access the support they need and won’t be indebted to their landlords.
  3. Provide households on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) a supplement to ensure they have enough money to purchased the necessities they need. We know that their income is so low that they must rely on food banks and soup kitchens to get by. This is not an acceptable option in the current context.
  4. Eliminate all cuts proposed in the 2020 Budget. It’s going to be tough enough to cope once the dust settles, we don’t need the extra stress of trying to manage with cuts to social services and education.
  5.  Implement an emergency funding stream for community-based organizations working on the front lines.  These organizations have been hard hit by cuts in recent years.  They are skilled at what they do and they know what their communities need. We cannot rely on volunteers alone to do this important work.
  6. Open up the so-called “rainy day fund’ and get money out the door quickly to ensure that our health care workers have the tools they need to scale up testing and intervene to minimize the impact of this dreadful pandemic. So far the number of confirmed cases in Manitoba is relatively low, but this is more likely a result of limited testing, than actual infection.
  7. Ensure that Personal Care Homes are adequately staffed.  Over worked care providers often rely no family visitors to help take off some of the load. It is not longer safe for family to visit and this means less care for a very vulnerable population.

These are just a few things our government can do right now. For our part, Manitobans should send an email to the Premier and our MLAs and tell them loud and clear, we don’t want them to spare any expense in our fight against the virus.  Here is an email list of MLAs.

Alphabetical List by Members’ Name:

ADAMS, Danielle Thompson NDP
ALTOMARE, Nello Transcona NDP
ASAGWARA, Uzoma Union Station NDP
BRAR, Diljeet Burrows NDP
BUSHIE, Ian Keewatinook NDP
CLARKE, Hon. Eileen Agassiz PC
COX, Hon. Cathy Kildonan-River East PC
CULLEN, Hon. Cliff Spruce Woods PC
DRIEDGER, Hon. Myrna Roblin PC
EICHLER, Hon. Ralph Lakeside PC
EWASKO, Wayne Lac du Bonnet PC
FIELDING, Hon. Scott Kirkfield Park PC
FONTAINE, Nahanni St. Johns NDP
FRIESEN, Hon. Cameron Morden-Winkler PC
GERRARD, Hon. Jon River Heights IND LIB
GOERTZEN, Hon. Kelvin Steinbach PC
GORDON, Audrey Southdale PC
GUENTER, Josh Borderland PC
GUILLEMARD, Hon. Sarah Fort Richmond PC
HELWER, Hon. Reg Brandon West PC
ISLEIFSON, Len Brandon East PC
JOHNSON, Derek Interlake-Gimli PC
JOHNSTON, Scott Assiniboia PC
KINEW, Wab Fort Rouge NDP
LAGASSÉ, Bob Dawson Trail PC
LAMONT, Dougald St. Boniface IND LIB
LAMOUREUX, Cindy Tyndall Park IND LIB
LATHLIN, Amanda The Pas-Kameesak NDP
LINDSEY, Tom Flin Flon NDP
MALOWAY, Jim Elmwood NDP
MARCELINO, Malaya Notre Dame NDP
MARTIN, Shannon McPhillips PC
MICKLEFIELD, Andrew Rossmere PC
MORLEY-LECOMTE, Janice Seine River PC
MOSES, Jamie St. Vital NDP
NAYLOR, Lisa Wolseley NDP
NESBITT, Greg Riding Mountain PC
PALLISTER, Hon. Brian Fort Whyte PC
PEDERSEN, Hon. Blaine Midland PC
PIWNIUK, Doyle Turtle Mountain PC
REYES, Jon Waverley PC
SALA, Adrien St. James NDP
SANDHU, Mintu The Maples NDP
SCHULER, Hon. Ron Springfield-Ritchot PC
SMITH, Andrew Lagimodière PC
SMITH, Bernadette Point Douglas NDP
SMOOK, Dennis La Vérendrye PC
SQUIRES, Hon. Rochelle Riel PC
STEFANSON, Hon. Heather Tuxedo PC
TEITSMA, James Radisson PC
WASYLIW, Mark Fort Garry NDP
WHARTON, Hon. Jeff Red River North PC
WIEBE, Matt Concordia NDP
WISHART, Ian Portage la Prairie PC
WOWCHUK, Rick Swan River PC