WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government is launching a new lottery to encourage Manitobans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Premier Brian Pallister and Manny Atwal, president and CEO of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, made the announcement at a news conference on Wednesday, noting the province will award nearly $2 million in cash and scholarships through this lottery.

“This lottery gives Manitobans a reason to move faster to roll up their sleeves, not once, but twice,” the premier said.

Over the summer, Manitoba will hold two lottery draws.

Manitobans are automatically entered when they receive their vaccine.

“You do not have to apply or enter to be eligible,” Atwal said.

“Every person who is immunized will automatically be entered.”

All Manitobans aged 12 years of age and older who have received at least one dose on or before Aug. 2 will be eligible for the first draw, and all Manitobans aged 12 and older who have received two doses on or before Sept. 6 will be eligible for the second.

Each lottery draw will award:

  • Three $100,000 prizes in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, excluding Churchill;
  • A $100,000 prize in each of the remaining regional health authorities, which includes Prairie Mountain Health, Southern Health- Santé Sud, the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority; and the Northern Regional Health Authority, including Churchill; and
  • 10 draws of $25,000 for scholarships for people aged 12 to 17.

Each lottery will be held once the province enters all of the eligible immunizations as of the vaccine deadline into its database.

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries will be responsible for conducting the lotteries, with a third-party auditor providing additional oversight.

“There are still some technical details to work through and some important steps for us to take to ensure an appropriate, secure, and legal process is implemented,” Atwal said.

The province notes a process has been put in place to make sure all the information used for the draw is protected and secure.

Any Manitoban who does not want to be part of the lottery will be able to opt-out. The province will provide information on this process in the near future.

NDP WANTS INVESTMENT IN HEALTH-CARE

NDP Leader Wab Kinew says this lottery shows the province’s “misplaced priorities,” as it is putting money towards a lottery giveaway as opposed to helping address ICU capacity.

“Every time we’ve moved into a lockdown here in Manitoba we’ve been told, ‘We have to do this to buy time for our health-care system,’ and yet Mr. Pallister and the PC cabinet seem to do everything except invest in our health-care system throughout this pandemic,” he said.

Kinew said Wednesday’s announcement is another sign that the government can find resources to do the things they want to do and think will be popular.

However, he said, the province doesn’t seem to find the resources to do the “heavy lifting of the work that we all know is going to be the most important thing to get us through the pandemic, which is to fix the crisis in our health-care system right now, the crisis in our ICUs.”

He said the government’s top job should be to make health-care investments and come up with a plan to fix the situation in the province’s ICUs.

Kinew noted the province needs to continue to supply Manitobans with trusted information from trusted sources to encourage them to get the COVID-19 vaccine.