'There has been so much suffering': Manitoba premier looks back at COVID-19 pandemic and how to move forward
Manitoba premier Brian Pallister speaks to media prior to the reading of the Speech from the Throne at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, Wednesday, October 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
WINNIPEG -- As Manitoba marks its one-year anniversary since the very first case of COVID-19, Premier Brian Pallister is reflecting back over the last year and also looking forward to what will happen next.
In an interview with CTV News, Pallister said no one could have foreseen or predicted what has happened in Manitoba and around the world.
"It was a century ago that we were hit globally with a pandemic like this, the Spanish Flu," said Pallister. "There has been so much suffering in the business community and the family level most importantly with over 900 Manitobans losing their lives."
There have been 912 deaths linked to COVID-19, but Pallister said because of the work the province and Manitobans of done over the last year, lives have been saved.
"We lost people we'll miss, but we saved the lives of those we'll treasure forever."
HELPING BUSINESSES AFTER THE PANDEMIC
As the premier has previously mentioned, the business community has been hit hard since the pandemic broke out.
Restrictions led to most places having to close their doors and some had to shut down for good as the financial toll was too much to handle.
The provincial and federal governments have offered several programs to small and medium sized businesses to help them muscle through the economic struggle and stay a float while they waited for the situation to improve.
Now with the vaccine being administered in Manitoba and there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, Pallister was asked what steps are next to help the businesses that are still open.
"We've got another $50 million targeting recovery programs for small businesses that we are ready to invest," he said. "I think our government has done the best it can to support Manitobans through this time and we will continue to be there helping Manitobans through the recovery."
He added that Manitobans have been saving a lot during the pandemic—Pallister saying Manitoba is ranked second in savings only to B.C.—and he feels Manitobans are itching to get back to spending and helping support local businesses.
However, Pallister did mention that Manitoba is not out of the woods yet and Manitobans need to continue to be diligent to ensure the recovery lasts.
The premier was also asked when businesses might be able to open up at 100 per cent capacity. He said he doesn't want to predict when that might happen, but added he thinks businesses want a gradual reopening process so there isn't a constant reopening and closing cycle.
"That's the path we are on and we want to continue on that path and we want to get back to a life as normal as possible as soon as possible."