Skip to main content

Provincial leaders discuss health care during Doctors Manitoba forum

health care

Health care in Manitoba was the main focus in the latest leaders' forum Wednesday leading up to election day.

Doctors Manitoba hosted a one hour forum where each of the three main party leaders were asked about the health-care system in the province and what their government's would do to help fix it.

Right off the bat, Progressive Conservative leader Heather Stefanson was asked if she felt the health-care system would be in the situation it is now if the COVID-19 pandemic didn't happen.

"COVID has made things a little bit worse. Health human resources is one of the biggest challenges that we are facing," said Stefanson.

She said her party is working to recruit, train and retain health-care professionals in Manitoba to ensure the proper staffing levels are available to help Manitobans.

"We recognize there is much more work to be done. That is why we are committing another $30 million annually."

Stefanson noted the PCs are looking at finding 150 more family doctors that would be evenly distributed between Winnipeg, rural Manitoba and northern Manitoba.

"This is not something we can do alone, it's something we need to work together the last under two years, we've developed a much better working relationship with Doctors Manitoba, where we have been able to work on some of these things," said Stefanson.

The lockdown was also brought up during the discussion and Stefanson, who has previously said there won't be anymore lockdowns, was asked what if another lockdown is required.

"For right now, we know more about COVID, we've got the tools in place, more tools than we had in the beginning. We've increased capacity in certain areas as well, and we will continue to increase that capacity."

Liberal leader Dougald Lamont followed Stefanson in the forum. Lamont was asked about what he would change to ensure Manitobans are able to see a physician when they need to.

"We are way, way short because of years where we have throttled the amount of training that has happened in Manitoba," said Lamont. "We need to expand training…we would invest directly into the University of Manitoba to expand its capacity to train new doctors."

He noted they would also like to increase residency spaces.

Lamont also talked about giving incentives to convince doctors to work and stay in the northern part of the province, to ensure people there get the care they need.

Right now, he said the province is short on all positions to help with the aging population and if the Liberals were in power, the party would work on recruiting to help prevent the continued use of the health-care system.

"We don't actually put the money in to prevent (things) like diabetes," he said. "We can be preventing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs."

He also wants to see a culture change in the health-care system that gives people a voice to speak up and help bring change.

The last leader of the evening was Wab Kinew with the NDP. He too agrees that the most concerning problem with the health-care system right now is the staffing levels and not having the number of professionals needed to help Manitobans on a number of fronts – from physical to mental health issues.

"(We need) the three pronged approach. Starting with plugging the hole in the bottom of the boat. So better working conditions, addressing the culture in the workplace of health care and ensuring we have compensation that is competitive. Second, bring in the reinforcements, training, recruitment. And then the third, build a health-care system for the future," said Kinew.

Kinew also pledged during the forum that his party would work to build new personal care homes to replace the ones that were crippled during the pandemic.

Another sticking point for Kinew was modernizing the health-care system by bringing in electronic health files and giving Manitobans easier access to their health information.

"Our platform does call for a consistent investment both on the operating side, but also the needed capital investment," said Kinew.

He said doctors shouldn't have to search for paper files for patients and also said Manitobans are waiting longer for surgeries and other procedures because files are being faxed instead of having an electronic system.

"There is a lot of modernization that can take place here. It could deliver you the plastic health card you want in the future."

Advanced voting has already started in Manitoba and goes until Sept. 30. Election day is on Oct. 3. Top Stories

Stay Connected