State of Emergency: Manitoba’s E.R. Crisis

While the NDP government keeps our focus on themselves and their own petty political worries, the public’s attention should turn to two alarming failures in our most important – and most expensive – service: emergency health care.

Manitoba’s emergency room systems are cracking under heavy pressure. What’s even more alarming is that the bureaucracy managing our health system has basically admitted as much in two separate incidents. But thanks to NDP’s fixation on purely political concerns, not one minister, politician, director or manager has been held accountable for letting things get this bad.

The first problem was with the Winnipeg Health Authority’s plan to deal with chronic waits and delays in our emergency rooms. Launched with great fanfare years ago, the plan also had something the NDP hates to see in government: clear goals. The problem with clear goals is that once mismanagement fails to deliver, you have no choice but to admit failure.

That’s exactly what happened in late February. Safely hidden from any criticism by the heat of the leadership campaign, health officials admitted that years of work had actually made emergency room wait times worse. By the government’s own measurements, we’re discharging patients more slowly from ERs, we’re finding beds more slowly, and the number of patients with very long waits is roughly the same as before. Meanwhile, in 2014, paramedics independently said they were waiting 78 minutes with the average patient at hospital ERs, an increase over 2013 – despite government claims of a tiny improvement in ambulance turnaround times.

The second admission of failure came last week. The Ministry of Health was tasked with responding to the results of the Brian Sinclair inquiry. The inquiry investigated our emergency room systems after Mr. Sinclair died unnoticed while waiting for care.

The simplest request from the inquiry: make sure triage nurses check on any patient who is vomiting in an Emergency Room. Health Minister Sharon Blady insists it will take nine months – yes, months – to actually deliver on this single change. She claimed other recommendations may take several years to deliver. If that’s how unresponsive our system is, how well equipped are we to adapt procedures for a minor-grade pandemic or an unexpected disaster?

Our health system is a multi-billion dollar organization. It’s rich in management and bureaucracy. Yet officials basically admitted that it’s being mismanaged twice in the space of mere weeks. That doesn’t mean we should harshly judge the majority of hardworking health care workers who use their skills to save lives every day within the system. But it is fair to be concerned about the cabinet, the ministers, the directors and the managers who’ve been paid well for many years to organize and deploy our health care professionals.

In other provinces, if managers admitted to wasting years on a failed strategy to fix the system, or if ministers admitted they couldn’t deliver life-saving recommendations for months or years, resignations would be demanded, or even offered. Heads would roll. There would be a call for fresh eyes and fresh management.

Not here. Ministers don’t resign when they fail under today’s NDP government; they only do it when they want to overthrow the Premier. Our Premier won’t take responsibility for health care either, because he’s too busy snuffing out rebellions and protecting his own career to be distracted with real world concerns like an emergency room crisis.

Manitoba’s Best Days Are Ahead

Greg Selinger is still Premier of Manitoba. And while that may seem depressing, Manitoba’s best days are ahead. Here’s why:

While the NDP voted for more of the same, Manitobans are demanding better government with policies to strengthen our province.

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why Manitoba Forward has put forth a set of principles for a vibrant and prosperous Manitoba.

Manitoba Forward also believes we should:

This wasn’t a bad news event. With a new government with strong public policy our best days are ahead of us.

The Facts About Manitoba’s Economy

We’ll be discussing our economic realities June 13 at “Manitoba Could Be…” a policy summit discussing how we can thrive again. Register now. 

The Facts About Manitoba’s Economy

There has been a great deal of local news coverage of an opinion asserting a perceived strength of Manitoba’s economy. There’s only one problem with these reports and the underlying opinion: they don’t tell the whole story.

Here are some facts about Manitoba’s economy:

Fact: As reported by the Conference Board, Manitoba’s GDP (gross domestic product) has been projected to grow at a faster rate than most provinces. This “new” projected growth for 2015 is actually identical to a projection for 2015 that the Conference Board made in 2013.

Fact: The growth of Manitoba’s GDP hasn’t surged – rather, the GDP growth of resource heavy provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland) has slowed down due to likely temporary low and plummeting commodity prices. This point was buried at the end of the Conference Board’s one-page report.

Fact: The Conference Board projection for generally average economic growth is partly based on the spillover effects of wasteful debt-spending on projects like Hydro’s BiPole III line and over-budget and uneconomic dam mega projects. If pursued to completion, the unnecessary projects will translate into Manitoba Hydro bills doubling or tripling for ratepayers in the province.

We’ll be discussing our economic realities June 13 at “Manitoba Could Be…” a policy summit discussing how we can thrive again. Register now. 

Government spending factors into GDP figures whether or not the spending is necessary. So while the NDP reports last week that the latest provincial deficit will be be higher than expected and once again close in on half a billion, Manitoba sinks further and further into our already $30 billion plus summary debt.

In other words, any blip up in interest rates or construction costs or slow down in private sector “growth” in the coming year will worsen the financial consequences for Manitobans tomorrow. Meanwhile , ongoing financial mismanagement by the provincial government only further compounds the struggles faced by Manitoba’s economy.
Here are some relevant facts about Manitoba’s economy:
Fact: Manitoba workers are paid less than workers in most Canadian provinces. We’re even paid less than workers in the Maritimes and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fact: Manitoba has the fewest small businesses employers per capita in Canada. Our province remains the most difficult place to start and operate a successful small business.

Fact: Manitoba has the highest income and sales tax burden outside of Quebec and the Maritimes. So not only is Manitoba the hardest place to find good paying work, but whatever you earn here you keep less.

Manitoba Forward believes good public policy is vital.  Take a look our principles for a vibrant and prosperous Manitoba, including recommendations on how we should and could manage our debt and spending towards sustainably grow our economy.