Manitoba Leaders Debate Health Care Reformation Ahead of Election


During a recent leaders’ forum held in Manitoba, the spotlight centered intensely on the state of health care in the province, underscoring its salience as an issue ahead of the looming election. Hosting the hour-long session was Doctors Manitoba, which took the opportunity to query each of the three main party leaders about their intended strategies to rectify the flaws in the current health care system.

Progressive Conservative leader Heather Stefanson was first to take the floor. The specifics of the province’s health care situation in a non-COVID-19 scenario was brought up, a question Stefanson handled by acknowledging the exacerbating effects of the pandemic on an already strained health care system. She noted that the recruitment and retention of health professionals stand as hurdles to surmount. Undeterred, Stefanson pledged her party’s commitment to tackle these issues robustly, promising an annual investment of $30 million and strategizing to bring onboard 150 family doctors, distributed across Winnipeg, rural and northern Manitoba.

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The possibility of another lockdown, a topic of significant contention, also surfaced during the discussion. Stefanson reaffirmed her stance against further lockdowns, expressing confidence in the greater preparation and understanding of the virus, coupled with increased capacity in various domains.

Following Stefanson came Dougald Lamont, leader of the Liberal Party. He voiced concerns over a prevalent shortfall due to years of limited professional training within the province. Lamont advocated for boosted training programmes, pledging to invest in the University of Manitoba to improve its capacity to train new doctors. Lamont spoke passionately about incentivizing doctors to relocate and remain in the northern areas of the province, highlighting the crucial need for adequate healthcare in those regions.

Lamont sited preventable conditions, such as diabetes, as an avoidable drain on resources, calling for increased funding in preventative measures. Lastly, he suggested a need for an extensive cultural shift within the health care system, one that empowers public voices and spurs positive change.

The final speaker of the evening was Wab Kinew, the NDP leader, who aligned with the consensus that staffing levels pose the major concern within the health care system. Kinew proposed a threefold solution: improved working conditions, increased recruitment and breed a future-focused health care system.

Kinew showcased his pledge for the construction of new personal care homes to replace those severely affected by the pandemic. He also mooted modernizing the health care system via digital technologies like electronic health files, stating that this would both facilitate easier patient access to information and expedite surgeries and procedures currently delayed by outdated systems of record-keeping.

As the leaders filed off the platform, the dialogues sparked intense anticipation for the election day slated for October 3, with advanced voting already underway until September 30.