March 3, 2022
Premier’s calendar as Health Minister shows she refused to work weekends
Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg MB – While health care staff worked back-to-back shifts and were forced to work overtime, Premier Stefanson, who was Health Minister at the time, refused to work weekends.
The Manitoba NDP obtained a copy of Premier Stefanson’s calendar from her time as Health Minister. The calendar shows that she did not work any weekends during her time as Health Minister from January to August 2021. Excluding the time she was on leave, that is approximately 50 days—about the same amount of time Brian Pallister said he would spend in Costa Rica each year.
“Every Manitoban will remember this critical time in our province,” said NDP House Leader Nahanni Fontaine. “Health care workers were exhausted and our hospitals were collapsing. Working parents were juggling their jobs, childcare and remote learning 24/7, and yet the Health Minister, Heather Stefanson, was taking weekends off. During a pandemic, Manitobans expect their political leaders to go above and beyond but Premier Stefanson was missing in action.”
This period includes the peak of the third wave when Manitoba had the highest rate of infection in North America, doctors told media the situation in hospitals was an “absolute disaster,” and our ICUs were so overwhelmed the government sent 57 patients out of province for care, including one who died. During this time the government made significant COVID announcements on the weekend like the decision to close schools.
“While health care workers were told it was ‘all hands-on deck,’ the Premier was punching out at 5pm on Fridays,” said NDP Health care critic Uzoma Asagwara. “When our province needed leadership, Premier Stefanson abandoned families and health care workers. Manitobans deserve a Premier that works as hard as they do and doesn’t hide in a crisis.”