September 10, 2021
Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB— Today Ian Bushie, NDP MLA for Keewatinook, who represents Little Grand Rapids First Nation and Pauingassi First Nation, stood with Wab Kinew, Leader of the Manitoba NDP, Adrien Sala, NDP Critic for Hydro and IBEW 2034, to demand the PCs expedite restoration work this weekend so community members can return home on Monday. In updated assessment given to media this week, Hydro claims there are only 48 poles left to be repaired.
“These families have been displaced for almost two months and they cannot wait any longer,” said Bushie. “They’re stranded in hotels because the PC government won’t treat them like a priority. These kids need to be back in school in their home community. These people need to get their lives back. The PC government needs to put every worker, every piece of equipment on the job this weekend to get these communities home by Monday.”
“Displacing families, particularly during a pandemic, is harmful,” said Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Today we are asking the PC government: what is more important this weekend than getting the lights back on in these communities and getting these kids and these families back home?”
Manitoba Hydro’s initial assessment said that 105 poles providing service to over 1,500 people in Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nation had been damaged. However, in an updated assessment to media, Hydro claims that there are now 88 poles that need replacing with 40 already complete. NDP MLA for Keewatinook, Ian Bushie, and NDP Hydro critic Adrien Sala, have written two letters to Crown Services Miniter Jeff Wharton for updates but have received no reply. In the 2019 ice storm, when Hydro reported that 4,000 poles were damaged and 593, 490 Manitobans were without power, service was restored within 15 days.
“Our workers want nothing more than to get out there and get the job done this weekend so that families can return home on Monday,” said IBEW 2034 Business Manager, Mike Espenell. “I’m confident that if we treated this like the critical situation it is and put all hands-on deck, we could restore service by the end of this weekend.”