NDP Call for Pandemic Inquiry in Alternative Throne Speech

November 17, 2021

Kinew: Independent review needed to build a more resilient future

Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB— A week before Premier Stefanson’s first Speech from the Throne, the Manitoba NDP have released their Alternative Throne speech calling for an independent, expert-led inquiry into Manitoba’s pandemic response.

“Manitobans want a government that learns from their mistakes and fixes problems instead of making them worse. Our province had some of the worst outcomes in the country—we have a responsibility to those who lost loved ones to find out why,” said Kinew. “This inquiry would look forward and give us recommendations fora brighter future and a more resilient health care system. We can’t change what happened in the pandemic but we can learn from it. We can’t afford not to.”

If the PC’s fail to call a robust inquiry, Kinew committed to calling it as government should his party win the next election.

The inquiry would take a whole-of-government approach, with a distinct focus on the health care system, to review provincial decisions and actions that contributed to higher case counts and deaths, larger outbreaks, longer lockdowns and more stress on Manitoba’s hospitals and health care workers.

Kinew stressed the need for the inquiry to be led by independent, non-partisan experts, rather than an internal government review that could be compromised by politics. His party would call on ICU doctors and nurses, long-term care specialists, public health researchers and epidemiologists, Indigenous health experts and others to objectively review the provincial response and put forward recommendations to make our system more resilient and better prepared for a future emergency.

Uzoma Asagwara, the NDP’s Health Critic, said the inquiry must take into account the changes made to Manitoba’s health care system in the years leading up to the pandemic, in order to understand why the system fell into crisis.

“The funding and service cuts that were made pre-pandemic had a direct impact on the outcomes we saw once the virus hit,” Asagwara said. “The decision to cut the public Lifeflight program must be looked at when we review the decisions that led us to send ICU patients out of province for care. We owe it those families, and to all Manitobans, to review government’s actions and find a better path forward.”

Kinew urged Premier Stefanson to agree to an independent inquiry.

“The Premier has already doubled down on Brian Pallister’s leadership by insisting this was not a health care crisis,” he said. “She can do the right thing by calling an independent inquiry to find the truth and do better for people.”