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Op-Ed: Manitoba Has a Definite Problem

February 8, 2015 10:16 AM | Columns

By Ken Waddell, myWestman

We have a definite problem in Manitoba. It pervades our whole society but it’s most noticeable and identifiable in our current provincial government.

Currently, the NDP party is undergoing a leadership race. Premier Greg Selinger is defending his title, Theresa Oswald and Steve Ashton are challenging. Our problem is not that Selinger, Oswald and Ashton aren’t fairly nice and competent people. That’s not the problem. I know all three fairly well and the problem isn’t that they aren’t nice enough people, the problem is they are socialists. Myself, and many others, have been highly criticized for calling NDP politicians socialists. For some strange reason, it’s considered an insult but it isn’t. It’s a fact. Socialism, wherever you find it in its many forms, pervades Manitoba. It’s in every aspect of our lives. It certainly has a choke hold on education and health care.

Take education for example. It’s filled with many fine teachers and administrators. But the over riding message in our schools is “get an education and a good job.” Preferably a government, public service union job. You almost never hear the message to get an education and start a business, make some money, pay some taxes and create more jobs. Going into business is something, in the minds of many educators, you do if you can’t get a government job or at least a good union job with a company.

Health care is polluted with socialism as well. Highly unionized and crippled by a lack of innovation and thought, health care in Manitoba is renowned for looking after the people who are very sick. If you have cancer, you usually get really good care. if you are dying, the care is often above reproach. However when it comes to innovation and finding new ways to finance health care, we fall pretty flat.

Take financing for example. It used to be that churches built hospitals, Ste. Rose, Misericordia, Concordia, St. Boniface and many more. Now, if a hospital or care home is to be built, it has to be financed by the province and local government. It has to be built by unionized workers. It has to be staffed by unionized workers. It has to be paid for from the cornerstone to the paper towels by the government.

Health care facility construction is a huge draw on public coffers. Why not let churches, service groups or private organizations and communities build health care facilities? It should be noted that cost overruns are rampant when government does anything. Case in point, the Country Meadows Care Home in Neepawa was supposed to cost $16 million for 120 beds. It cost nearly $30 million for 100 beds.

Looking after the needy in our society, the down-trodden, the less fortunate is a process that is bogged down in bureaucracy. Let’s say a person living in Minnedosa or Neepawa is down and out and needs social assistance. They have to apply through a person in Brandon. If they don’t have a cent to their name, how are they supposed to get to Brandon. Suppose that person needs government housing. A person living in Neepawa has to apply in Portage for housing. How stupid is that? Welfare in Brandon, housing in Portage. Absolute stupidity.

Why isn’t there someone in Neepawa or Rivers or wherever that can handle both welfare and housing? And if there are other needs such as counselling or mental health issues, then what happens? Oh, that’s another department. If the person is in really tough shape, the RCMP takes them to a larger centre and while they get good care while in the institution, what happens when they get out?

You may have heard the word proctor. It’s a quaint word for a community care-giver. We need to have our very fragmented process collected together so that proctors or community care givers could look after a number of needs and issues for a set group of clients.

Manitoba needs an overhaul in so many ways. The only hope we have is that we do have great people and great resources but we do need a system overhaul.

Education needs a huge shift from the bland, grey, dull mask of socialism that pervades the system. Health care need to be encouraged to have far more innovation. Care of the needy has to be localized and locally centralized. Care workers need to be assigned to a few families and have far greater responsibility and authority to deal with wider range of family or an individual’s issues.

Fragmentation and a lack of communication are the fertile seedbeds of socialism. Socialists don’t want anyone to be empowered to handle their own affairs. Quite frankly, it’s time to end socialism in Manitoba.