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Provincial candidates in the hot seat at Grandview forum

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Health Care Solutions offered voters in the Parkland an opportunity to meet Dauphin riding candidates for the Sept. 10 election, at a forum in Grandview, Aug. 28.
Competing for a seat in the Manitoba Legislature is incumbent Brad Michaleski, representing the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, New Democratic Party candidate Darcy Scheller and Manitoba Liberal Party hopeful Cathy Scofield-Singh. They shared their thoughts on a variety of topics, often pointing out the shortcomings of other political parties.
Health Care Solutions compiled over a dozen questions from the 40 submitted by local residents, under the categories of; the economy, health care and the political process.
Questions ranged from minimum wage, climate change and the proposed emergency medical services (EMS) closure in Grandview, to seniors, health services and RCMP services.
Scofield-Sigh opened the forum by noting the province is at a crossroads in dealing with critical issues such as health care, drug addiction, mental health access, crime, environment and the economy, which have been developing under the current and previous administrations.
“We’ve been told that the PCs and the NDP are the only choices in the upcoming election. This is not true,” she said.
“The Manitoba Liberal Party has developed innovative plans to improve our economy, while ensuring strong health care and education, adequate child care and addressing poverty to improve the lives of all Manitobans, including Grandview and the Dauphin riding.”
Michaleski let his name stand for the same reason he ran previously, he said, which is to look at the broader economy and try to help it.
“We knew when we formed government that there was an incredible mess to deal with. And I know our team is very focused, under the leadership of the premier, to fix our finances and repair our services and ultimately grow our economy, which is something that is top of mind for me,” he said.
“The learning curve for me has been steep on some departments, other ones have been a little bit easier, but I know we’re making progress on what we’re doing as a government in the last three years.”
Scheller pointed out the province looks much the same, as it did three-and-a-half years ago.
“The difference is, we’re all feeling the cutbacks,” she said.
“The business sector of our constituency can be in an area the size of a hamlet or as large as the City of Dauphin. But every one of them should have the opportunity to be viable and to have an MLA represent them that’s available and working with them towards community growth. New industry brings jobs, economic growth, as well as increases to the population. This is a necessary direction for our constituency to take.”
Referring to it as the elephant in the room, moderator Pierce Cairns asked Michaleski to share his stance on the proposed EMS closure in Grandview.
It is commonly known, Michaleski said, that the emergency system across Manitoba, including Winnipeg, was not working well.
“I know that what the government did and again, I understand the challenges across rural Manitoba, but what the government has implemented it is a paramedic-based emergency system that really works in a co-ordinated effort to improve emergency access to all Manitobans,” he said.
“But I also say that we implement this as a 10-year plan, and your ambulance is still here, the hospital is still here and I’ve always had an open door when we’re talking about these issues.”
Scofield-Sigh pointed out the current government’s plans were implemented without looking at alternatives.
“A good example is looking at how Mr. Pallister plans to remove the Grandview EMS, without fully evaluating how the loss of that essential service will impact Grandview and the area,” she said.
“We know that Grandview is a farming community and when you have an accident on a farm, you need to get to the ER pretty damn quick.”
Calling a previous public meeting in Grandview to discuss closure of the EMS a bitter view of how the Pallister government disregards Manitoba families, Scheller said, there was a lack of concern about the economic effect dismantling an essential emergency service would have on the community.
“Let’s not forget over the last 3-1/2 years, 11 closures to EMS services in the Parkland alone. He’s (Pallister) selling off the air ambulance services which helps save lives by ensuring Manitobans can be reached, in the event of an emergency, far from a hospital,” she said.
In his rebuttal, Michaleski noted the current government ensured the MRI was delivered to the region and significant investment was made in emergency room capacity in Dauphin, to serve the region.
“We’ve also made a huge commitment towards ambulances and paramedicine and we are going to continue to do that, because that is the most effective way to deliver high-quality emergency care on scene,” he added.
The candidates stayed after the forum, to answer questions from individual constituents.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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