Tuesday, April 25, 2023

The House met at 10 a.m.

Madam Speaker: O Eternal and Almighty God, from Whom all power and wisdom come, we are assembled here before Thee to frame such laws as may tend to the welfare and prosperity of our province. Grant, O merciful God, we pray Thee, that we may desire only that which is in accordance with Thy will, that we may seek it with wisdom and know it with certainty and accomplish it perfectly for the glory and honour of Thy name and for the welfare of all our people. Amen.

      We acknowledge we are gathered on Treaty 1 territory and that Manitoba is located on the treaty territories and ancestral lands of the Anishinaabeg, Anishininewuk, Dakota Oyate, Denesuline and Nehethowuk nations. We acknowledge Manitoba is located on the Homeland of the Red River Métis. We acknowledge northern Manitoba includes lands that were and are the ancestral lands of the Inuit. We respect the spirit and intent of treaties and treaty making and remain committed to working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the spirit of truth, reconciliation and collaboration.

      Good morning, everybody. Please be seated.



Hon. Rochelle Squires (Acting Gov­ern­ment House Leader): I'd like to announce to the House today that the following bills will be called this morning for debate in this order: Bill 239, The Resi­den­tial Tenancies Amend­ment Act (Application Fees and Deposits), to be considered from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and Bill 237, The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Amend­ment Act, to be considered from 10:30 to 11 a.m.

Madam Speaker: It has been announced that the following bills will be called this morning for debate in this order: Bill 239, The Resi­den­tial Tenancies Amend­ment Act (Application Fees and Deposits), to be considered from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and Bill 237, The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Amend­ment Act, to be considered from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Second Readings–Public Bills

Bill 239–The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act
(Application Fees and Deposits)

Madam Speaker: I will now call the first one, which is Bill 239, The Resi­den­tial Tenancies Amend­ment Act (Application Fees and Deposits).

Mr. Andrew Micklefield (Rossmere): I move, seconded by the member–the hon­our­able member for Kildonan‑River East (Mrs. Cox), that Bill 239, The Resi­den­tial Tenancies Amend­ment Act (Application Fees and Deposits), be now read a second time and be referred to a com­mit­tee of this House.

Motion presented.

Mr. Micklefield: So, a couple of months ago, I was returning to Winnipeg from a trip and, as the plane landed, I disembarked and was waiting, and some­body who recog­nized me from the flight said, you know, there are some Ukrainians on this flight and they don't know what to do, they don't know where to go.

      It was about 1 o'clock in the morning, and so I said, well, where are these people? And I made contact with a young couple; I think they were both 20 years old, married–just newly married, and they had escaped Ukraine. They had taken a variety of flights, sort of hip-hopped around the world and landed in Winnipeg.

      And they were tired. They were really not sure where it was that they landed, but here they were, 1 o'clock in the morning and they said, what to we do now? And I asked myself the same question: what do we do now?

      Anyway, helped them find their bags, and there was a little–there's a kiosk there for refugees, and we called the number, and every­thing actually worked quite well. I helped them with an Uber, with a cab. And we ended up–I ended up getting them to where they needed to go.

      A couple days later, my friend called me and he said, hey, my kids came from Ukraine, different situation­–or, different people, but similar situation. And would you come and meet with them? So, I went over to the house and met with the family and–you know, lovely couple, young children and they're trying to figure out, you know, what they do when they arrive in Winnipeg.

      Of course one of the big things is ac­com­moda­tion. And in the process of these con­ver­sa­tions and others like them, it was brought to my attention that in Manitoba it is permissible under the way the legis­lation currently reads, which I hope to change–hope we can change this morning–that when you apply to be–when you apply for an apartment or rental property, you often have to pay a down payment or a security deposit–there are a number of different terms that are used, but people end up paying, typically, 50 per cent of the rent to apply to hold a spot so that you're on the list.

      Now, that's often not a small amount of money. If rent is not uncommonly, you know, $1,000, $1,200, $1,500, seven–maybe $1,700 and sometimes more dollars, you know, you're looking at like five or $750 to hold your spot. And if you're trying to get into one of three places, then potentially you could have to shell out for such a deposit amount for each place that you apply to try and get in.

      So, when this was brought to my attention, I thought, you know, some­thing–this doesn't feel right. I get from a landlord perspective that, you know, you need to find a way that people can give their word and can say, yes, I'm interested in this place.

      So, I looked around at some other provinces and found out that, sure enough, Manitoba's an outlier in this regard. In BC, it's actually prohibited. That's the language that their legis­lation uses: a landlord must not charge a person anything for–there's a list of things, but it's the kind of situations that I'm talking about. There's language about landlord prohibitions.

      And this, by the way, is not a jab at landlords. Like, I get that when you're potentially selling a place or arranging a rental agree­ment, that you need to find a way that people are not going to just, you know, take advantage of you, but I don't think anybody in this Chamber wants renters to be taken advantage of, or potential renters.

* (10:10)

      Usually these deposits are returnable, but it's reported to me that that may not always be the case. So, we want to close this loophole; we want to align ourselves a little more closely with what happens in the rest of Canada. It's a varied landscape, but, in short, the legis­lation in other parts of the country recognizes that potential renters shouldn't have to shell out hundreds of dollars to get their name on a list.

      So, that's the loophole that we're hoping to close this morning. I do want to just draw attention to the fact: this is not some­thing that only affects new­comers. It affects a lot of people who–this is quite a sig­ni­fi­cant hit for. It affects seniors; it affects students; it affects people starting out; it affects people who don't have, obviously, a home to call their own yet.

      So, I'm hoping that we can agree on this. I'm hoping that we can say, yes, this is an amend­ment worth making. This is reasonable, this is fair, this is some­thing that the rest of Canada has done in a variety of ways.

      And I do want to, lastly, before I sit down, just say it's not a jab at landlords in any way. I think there are many good landlords that don't take advantage of this. And even the ones that do may not perceive them­selves to be taking advantage, but I think when these con­ver­sa­tions are had, they go, yes, I get it. Like, if you're trying to get into maybe one of three places, putting out several hundred dollars to have your name on the list is a hit that many people can't take, especially people who are looking to rent a place and need somewhere to live.

      With those few words, I'll sit down and certainly welcome questions from colleagues on all sides of the aisle, and hoping that, you know, in the next few moments we can agree together to pass this pretty minor statutory amend­ment.

      Thank you for the time. Thank you for listening. To all members, thank you.


Madam Speaker: A question period of up to 10 minutes will be held. Questions may be addressed to the sponsoring member by any member in the following sequence: first question to be asked by a member from another party; this is to be followed by a rotation between the parties; each in­de­pen­dent member may ask one question. And no question or answer shall exceed 45 seconds.

Mr. Adrien Sala (St. James): I'd like to ask: Do we know how many landlords are charging application fees currently in Manitoba?

Mr. Andrew Micklefield (Rossmere): Yes, thanks for the question. That's a great question.

      I actually do not have that number right in front of me. If the member wishes to offer it, I'd certainly welcome that statistic. I do know that it's not uncommon. I do know that it is an issue that's been brought to our attention, not because it happens once in a while, but that it does happen–I think with some of the larger landlords it's standard practice. It's written into some of the agree­ments, that, welcome here, here's how it works here.

      So, while it may not be some­thing that happens exclusively all the time, I don't think, unfor­tunately, it's some­thing that seldom happens in our province.

Mrs. Cathy Cox (Kildonan-River East): Thank you to the member from Rossmere, and my colleague, for introducing this im­por­tant amend­ment.

      I just want to ask him that, in today's very competitive rental market, and recog­nizing the challenges of affordability at this time, how will this benefit Manitobans who are seeking to enter the rental market?

Mr. Micklefield: I want to thank my friend from Kildonan‑River East, which is right next door to my con­stit­uency of Rossmere. And, like myself, the member has quite a few rental properties, so here's how it helps: it helps because people don't have to shell out several hundred dollars.

      Like, I'm just going to throw a number out there. I think a minimum amount is probably going to be 500 bucks: 50 per cent. It's hard to find an apartment for less than a thousand bucks. And, like I mentioned in my preamble, if you are trying to get your name on the list for more than one place–two or three places, or, depending on your circum­stance, it could be more–multiply the number of places times 50 per cent of the rent and it can add up quickly.

      We want to help people keep the money in their pocket.

Mr. Sala: I'd like to ask the member who he feels is most impacted by these fees. Obviously, we know that renters are the ones who are being impacted.

      But who are these renters and who's likely to be most impacted by the fees he's seeking to eliminate?

Mr. Micklefield: Well, I can speak, probably, to my own con­stit­uency more than the entire city. But in my con­stit­uency, the people who'd be impacted by these fees are a lot of seniors, a lot of people who've maybe moved out of homes; maybe they raised families and they're changing.

      So, those people; a lot of widows in the apartment blocks that I'm honoured to represent; a lot of people whose health maybe has forced them into situations where–a place where they have to shovel a driveway isn't working for them anymore. I mentioned students and certainly that's the case as well. And others who just don't have the networks where they can maybe live with parents or other family members.

Mr. Len Isleifson (Brandon East): I know the member is–has already mentioned a few reasons why this bill is im­por­tant to him.

      I would like to give the member an op­por­tun­ity to really express why he's bringing this bill forward and how im­por­tant is it, not just for his con­stit­uents, but for all con­stit­uents in Manitoba.

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, thanks, my friend and colleague for that question.

      Yes, look, this is the Manitoba Legislature. It's not the Rossmere legislature. It affects everybody in the province. And our law in this regard doesn't align with  much of the rest of Canada. It's a bit of a patchwork, but there's certainly a consensus, I think, among provinces. These kinds of get-your-name-on-the-list fees that go under a variety of names are being phased out, are being stopped across the country. We see that happening in Ontario, in BC, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and other places.

      So, it helps anybody who is wanting to rent an apartment and get their–

Madam Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr. Dougald Lamont (St. Boniface): I thank the member for bringing forward this legis­lation.

      I know that there are some challenges with the RTB. One is that often, even when a tenant applies, or that very often that landlords are granted above‑guide­line rent increases, but the other is a question of en­force­ment.

      So, I was wondering if the member could just talk a bit about what happens if a landlord violates this rule and ends up charging a fee or ends up trying to work their way around it by asking for a deposit, as has happened in some other provinces.

Mr. Micklefield: That's a very good question.

      This legis­lation doesn't create the mechanisms to–doesn't contemplate that angle of it. But look, I mean, there's boards, there's bodies that make sure these things are supposed to run smoothly. And I think that as landlords discover, hey, you can't do that anymore, you know what, I actually think in good faith that many of them would clean things up. And as it's brought to their attention, if they don't, that they would mend their ways.

      I–the landlords that I've worked with and the landlords that I've spoken to are actually not out to get people. They're actually out to serve people. They want people to have a good ex­per­ience in their blocks. And I do believe that we're going to have–

Madam Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr. Sala: In my last question, I asked the member about who would be impacted by this bill in terms of, you know, having them save some money on fees, et cetera. The member outlined that it would be widows, seniors and other people who are on fixed incomes.

      I'd like to ask the member how he feels about the fact that his gov­ern­ment raised taxes on renters by $175 in 2022, and again continued to do the same. Given this is about improving affordability or lightening the load for renters, how does he feel about the fact that his gov­ern­ment has made life harder for renters in Manitoba by increasing taxes on them?

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, I want to thank the member for the op­por­tun­ity to talk about–our gov­ern­ment's been helping renters.

      Rent Assist is helping about 23,000 Manitoba households. Recent tax changes have taken tens of thousands of people completely off the prov­incial tax rolls altogether. There are a number of other benefits that are helped–that are helping people in these situations. And, you know, I'm actually grateful for the good things that we've been doing. And I do hear about that in the con­stit­uency.

      So, yes, definitely a con­ver­sa­tion we want, to make sure that we're caring for people who are vul­ner­able. And I think there's evidence that we're, in fact, doing that.

* (10:20)

Madam Speaker: The hon­our­able member for River East.

Mrs. Cox: Again, thank you to my colleague and my neighbour from the constituency of Rossmere.

      I'd like to ask him what financial impact this amend­ment to The Resi­den­tial Tenancies Act will have on gov­ern­ment resources.

Madam Speaker: And I should just clarify that it was Kildonan‑River East.

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, I want to thank the member for that question.

      Probably, most of us, probably all of us in this room know that no private member's bill can be a money bill. In other words, we can't, as private members, bring things into this House that cost gov­ern­ment money or adjust things that way.

      This bill falls into that category. It's not going to be–it's not going to affect gov­ern­ment finances. It affects the nature of the transaction between a landlord with a potential tenant and just cleans up some­thing which we want to make sure that these people are not in a situation where they're more vul­ner­able, often, than they already are.

Mr. Sala: Every year in this province, thousands and thousands of apartment units see above‑guide­line rent increases as a product of this gov­ern­ment's failure to take action to prevent those above-guide­line increases from happening.

      That is a widespread issue that, again, affects thousands and thousands of renters across the province. This issue, my colleagues and I have rarely heard of; in fact, I haven't heard of this issue impacting anyone to date in the last three years that I've had the privilege of being an MLA.

      I'd like to ask the member why he's chosen to pursue changes to The Resi­den­tial Tenancies Act on this issue, but not on the much bigger and much more impactful concern around above-guide­line increases.

Mr. Micklefield: I want to thank the member for the question and for the op­por­tun­ity just to kind of spell out, if anybody watching, or anyone in this room, is aware of abuses to any part of the landlords and tenants process or system or anything that is illegal or questionable, that that should be brought to the attention of the minister or you can contact your MLA. Certainly, all of us represent renters, and MLAs who hear such rumours should bring them to the attention of the minister and I'd encourage all of us–

Madam Speaker: The member's time has expired.

      And the time for this question period has also expired.


Madam Speaker: Debate is open.

Mr. Adrien Sala (St. James): It's great to have an op­por­tun­ity to speak to this bill that's been brought forward by this gov­ern­ment. We can see–or, sorry, by this member.

      The proposal in the bill is fun­da­mentally positive. We, of course, should not have renters in Manitoba paying fees just to apply for a rental unit. That shouldn't be happening. That is a change that I think is definitely supportable. And we should not have renters that are being required to pay deposits in order to access a unit, either. That shouldn't be happening in Manitoba.

      I can say, however, as I just mentioned at the end of the question period, that in the last three and a half years that I have had the privilege of being an MLA, and as somebody who has done quite a bit of work in advocating for renters, along with my colleagues here on this side of the House, I have not heard a single example of somebody reaching out with this concern. That's not to say it hasn't happened. That's not to say that it isn't an issue, but it's just to position this issue relative to other issues that Manitoban renters are facing in this province.

      So, again, the proposed changes are a step in the right direction, as renters should not be paying those costs. But in terms of the issues that renters are facing in Manitoba and the issues that they're facing as a result of this gov­ern­ment's inaction and their failure to develop more social and affordable housing, this issue is in­cred­ibly small and minor.

      The reality is, while these changes would be positive, there are much, much bigger concerns, as I've said, that renters are facing. And this bill, although it does propose to make amend­ments to The Resi­den­tial Tenancies Act, it fails to make the types of amend­ments that are actually needed to make life more affordable for renters in Manitoba: changes that we have brought forward many, many times in this House and called on this gov­ern­ment to make.

      You know, just briefly, I want to just recall the renters' town hall that we hosted in St. James a little over a month ago, where I had the op­por­tun­ity to connect with con­stit­uents from my com­mu­nity who came to a town hall to express their concerns about the challenges they're facing as renters–not just in St. James, not just in west Winnipeg, but as renters in Manitoba.

      And what we heard loud and clear during that session, from those renters–and, of course, I've been hearing these issues for years–but this town hall gave an op­por­tun­ity for these issues to sort of crystalize and give renters an opportunity to express, in no uncertain terms, the challenges that they're facing as a result of this gov­ern­ment's inaction. Spe­cific­ally, the chal­lenges that they're facing relating to above-guide­line rent increases.

      This is not–I heard the member at the end of the question period there sort of allude to above-guide­line rent increases as though maybe it was some kind of, you know, anomaly or an issue where people are breaking rules or–I don't really know how he understands above-guide­line increases and how they happen. But what I'd like to tell the member and all members on that side of the House is, above-guide­line increases are a massive issue in this province. They're driving huge increases to the costs of rental housing, social and affordable rental housing in this province, and it's a direct by‑product of their failure to take action to change resi­den­tial tenancies legis­lation.

      We are allowing thousands and thousands of renters in Manitoba to see huge rent increases year  after year. We're not talking about 2 per cent increases, we're not talking about 5 per cent increases. And again, I invite the member who brought this forward to look at the data. I invite all members on that side to look at that data. We're talking about thousands of units in Manitoba that see 10 per cent increases and higher, with many being much, much higher.

      I have com­mu­nity members who've come to our   office from multiple buildings who've seen 20 per cent increases and higher. And I know that my colleagues on this side of the House have heard that over and over from their own constituents, and I'm certain that members on that side of the House have heard this from their own con­stit­uents, as well, whether or not they're willing to admit it in the House today.

      That is a huge concern because, ultimately, we–and in this case, this gov­ern­ment–are failing to take action as needed to put a stop to some­thing we can stop. We have the ability to stop this silent driver of our housing affordability crisis in Manitoba. We have that ability. This gov­ern­ment has that ability to do that.

      Instead, unfor­tunately, we're talking about minor changes to the resi­den­tial tenancies 'amact' which–Resi­den­tial Tenancies Act which are positive, but which do not go to the heart of the issue that renters are facing in Manitoba.

      You know, going back to that renters' town hall, not only do we have the issue of those AGIs being out of control and resulting in Manitobans facing rent increases 20 per cent and higher, we're also seeing the legis­lation, the resi­den­tial tenancies legis­lation allow for those increases to be applied before it's even approved by the resi­den­tial tenancies board.

      Think about that. So, if you're a renter, you are getting a notice from the resi­den­tial tenancies board telling you that your rent is going up, maybe two, three, 400 bucks, and you have to pay that before it even gets approved by the resi­den­tial tenancies board. Imagine that.

      And so–and what that act allows–or, what it suggests is that if it's rejected–which unfor­tunately, every single above-guide­line increase in Manitoba is ultimately approved–we've seen that, we've put data forward that showed that in 2019‑20, 310 out of 310 applications were approved. But it states that, in those cases where it isn't, the landlord will pay back the renter.

      Again, our legis­lation presumes that renters should carry these costs, these costs should be foisted on their shoulders, they should be forced to carry that. That's wrong. That's clearly another example of how this legis­lation needs to be changed to better protect renters.

      Another example of some­thing that this gov­ern­ment could have done to better protect renters would be to ensure that when rent discounts are in place–when a renter moves into an apartment on the basis that they're going to be charged a certain rent, that that rent can't be increased.

* (10:30)

Madam Speaker: The matter is again before the House, the hon­our­able member for St. James (Mr. Sala) will have three minutes remaining.

Bill 237–The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Administration Amendment Act

Madam Speaker: As previously announced, the House will now proceed to second reading of Bill 237, The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Amend­ment Act.

Mr. Andrew Micklefield (Rossmere): I move, seconded by the hon­our­able member for Kildonan‑River East (Mrs. Cox), that Bill 237, The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Amend­ment Act, be now read a second time and be referred to a com­mit­tee of this House.

Motion presented.

Mr. Micklefield: For more than 98 years, Providence Uni­ver­sity College and Theological Seminary has served the people of Manitoba and beyond with excellence and distinction.

      Having been esta­blished in 1925, almost a hundred years ago, as the Winnipeg Bible Training School, Providence has had six physical locations, seven name changes, 14 presidents, and has grown into the mature and proud in­sti­tution it is today.

      Interestingly, Madam Speaker, the Uni­ver­sity of Manitoba started off as a theological college; the U of W also. And we see similar roots here today.

      This year, Providence will serve over 1,000 students, who will join more than–the more than 10,000 alumni who have fanned out across six continents to serve as difference‑makers wherever they have gone. Providence is an accredited in­sti­tution that has issued more than 6,000 degrees of various kinds.

      Among the alumni are leaders from every level here in Canada and other countries. Also, pilots, farmers, first respon­ders, lawyers, professors, entre­preneurs, musicians, humanitarians.

      Just want to pause and acknowl­edge one such graduate: Samson Hkalam, who's an activist and a difference‑maker in Myanmar, who's been working to provide humanitarian assist­ance for those impacted by hostilities in the Kachin state. Mr. Hkalam is currently in prison, and he's sentenced for his outspokenness regarding injustice.

      Providence alumni have gone on to a variety of uni­ver­sities, including U of Chicago, Dalhousie, U of M, med schools across Canada and around the world. Providence is a well-structured in­sti­tution. It's got a strong senate, cabinet, board of governors.

      Divisions within the province–Providence com­mu­nity includes the Buller School of Busi­ness, the Centre for On‑Demand Edu­ca­tion, the English Language In­sti­tute. Providence features many offer­ings at the undergrad and graduate level, including pro­gram­ming in health sciences, psychology, busi­ness, sociology, environ­mental science, biblical theo­logical studies, counselling and, of course, aviation.

      Providence recently partnered with Assiniboine Com­mu­nity College to host the ACC nursing program on the Providence campus in part­ner­ship with Southern Health/Santé Sud.

      Province is–Providence's well‑known athletics program has won multiple cham­pion­ships. This year, in its various conferences on both sides of the border, including the prestigious NCCAA national cham­pion­ship in women's soccer, four of its coaches won coach‑of‑the‑year awards this year. The men's volley­ball team represented Manitoba at the CCAA national cham­pion­ships, winning the leadership award at that event for the quality of its competitive spirit. Providence will host those cham­pion­ships in 2025.

      Providence is engaged in acts of recon­ciliation with the Indigenous com­mu­nity. It has Indigenous faculty. Through the Centre for On‑Demand Edu­ca­tion, Providence is working on a pilot project with the com­mu­nity of Chemawawin and its leaders, develop­ing a certificate program in Indigenous leadership, identity and recon­ciliation mentored and taught by com­mu­nity knowledge keepers.

      Providence has recently renewed teaching in the city of Winnipeg serving 200 inter­national students through the Buller School of Busi­ness. These ener­getic students from around the world are being trained to make positive and much-needed con­tri­bu­tions to the Manitoban labour force.

      Alongside this renewed em­pha­sis upon the city, Providence sustains its core operations on a 110‑acre campus in Otterburne, Manitoba, and as it approaches its 100th anniversary, Providence Uni­ver­sity College and Theological Seminary is seeking recog­nition of its rightful status as a uni­ver­sity alongside its peer in­sti­tutions in the great province. It's time for Providence to be listed and included under section 1.0 of the Manitoba Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Act.

      Last time Providence changed categories in the province it was in 1990, I believe, under an NDP gov­ern­ment that allowed it to issue degrees. Since then, the in­sti­tution has matured and now looks, acts, functions, hires and grants bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees recog­nized around the world.

      We want to recog­nize the work that they're doing by putting them in the same section as the other in­sti­tutions that do exactly the same things here in our province.

      Happy to take questions and in light of the time, I'll leave it there for now.

      Thank you, Madam Speaker.


Madam Speaker: A question period of up to ten minutes will be held. Questions may be addressed to the sponsoring member by any member in the following sequence: first question to be asked by a member from another party; this is to be followed by a rotation between the parties; each in­de­pen­dent member may ask one question. And no question or answer shall exceed 45 seconds.

Mr. Jamie Moses (St. Vital): Happy to have a chance to ask a couple of questions on Bill 237.

      And my first question for the member is: Why is Bill 237 bring–being brought in as a private member's bill rather than being brought in by–as a gov­ern­ment bill by the minister?

Mr. Andrew Micklefield (Rossmere): Well certainly, I mean, a minister could've brought this in, but this is not a money bill. This doesn't affect funding, doesn't require min­is­terial–doesn't require a minister to make this change in–and if you look at the bill, it's actually a administratively fairly minor change, and in con­ver­sa­tions, I thought, I can do that.

      And so, here I am, putting this forward, and I think it's the right thing. I think it makes sense and I trust that members will agree with me this morning.

Mrs. Cathy Cox (Kildonan-River East): Again, thank you to my colleague and neighbour from Rossmere.

      I just want to ask him how this, you know–we know that Providence has a very long and recog­nized history here, in Manitoba.

      I just want to ask the member how this will benefit Providence by the changes and the amend­ment that he's putting forward today.

Mr. Micklefield: Well, I think, increasingly, over the last 20 years or so, 30 years or so, Providence has, you know, punched above its weight. I think it is included with the other uni­ver­sities in all kinds of cor­res­pon­dence, the regula­tions, all the different things. I mean, some of the profs actually teach at both places, is my under­standing.

      So, Providence has matured beyond its current legis­lative designation. And I think we're just recog­nizing what has come to be in the last few decades and I think that Providence has crossed the line in terms of its own maturity and the require­ments necessary. It's willing to–

Madam Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Ms. Cindy Lamoureux (Tyndall Park): Can the member explain the reason why Providence college spe­cific­ally is chosen in this bill as the post‑secondary in­sti­tution to be added to Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tive Act, and not other colleges?

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, I want to thank my friend from Tyndall Park for that question.

      So, there are actually require­ments to be listed in this section. One needs to have a senate, one needs to submit to min­is­terial oversight, one needs to–there's a quite a list of things that are required. And that's why  most colleges, you know–it doesn't–they don't necessarily aspire to be on that–to be a uni­ver­sity. They don't aspire, perhaps, and that's not their goal.

* (10:40)

      Providence has proven that it is able to do that. It's granting doctoral degrees. It's granting master's degrees, it's granting bachelor's degrees and so–

Madam Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr. Moses: So, when I think about the changes proposed in this act, I can't help but think about another comparable uni­ver­sity that is on the act. That's Canadian Mennonite Uni­ver­sity.

      And think about the fact that Canadian Mennonite University has its own act which outlines and details its council, its respon­si­bilities, the board structure, reporting mechanisms to 'pri' trans­par­ency.

      Providence college doesn't have an act that outlines those specific details.

      And I'm asking the member: Why hasn't he brought in a bill to bring forward those sort of–legis­lation for Providence college in addition to this act as well? This bill leaves out sig­ni­fi­cant details that CMU specifies in its own act.

Mr. Micklefield: Not sure that I'm–I understand the question fully, so I'll answer as best that I can. So, in order to qualify and to be treated as a peer in­sti­tution, one has to behave that way. And the fact of the matter is that Providence has behaved that way for, you know, years, and in many ways, decades.

      They've had a senate for a dozen years. They've–as I've already mentioned, they're issuing degrees. If there is other legis­lation that, when this passes, needs to be repealed or adjusted, then I'm certainly open to having that looked at. I'm not aware that–

Madam Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr. Len Isleifson (Brandon East): I know my colleague does a lot of research and speaks to a lot of folks in the com­mu­nity when he brings forward bills. So, in this parti­cular case, I'd like to ask him if he's spoken to Providence about this change, and just ask what their comments are.

      Are they ready to move forward with the changes that are required within this bill?

Mr. Micklefield: Yes. The answer is yes.

      And I was very clear with Providence when this was brought to my attention that with this change comes increased min­is­terial scrutiny, increased min­is­terial author­ity and oversight–the minister actually would have the ability to ask questions, which, under their present designation, are perhaps not as easily asked by the minister; it's not as clear.

      By coming into this designation, yes, they are on–they're recog­nized along the peer in­sti­tutions. There's respon­si­bilities, there's also account­ability with that too. They understand that and they're ready for it

Mr. Moses: I'd like to know whether the minister–sorry, whether the member has asked Providence college if this change would open them up to the possi­bility of receiving prov­incial funding or grants, the same way the other in­sti­tutions listed in The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Amend­ment Act already do receive prov­incial funding.

      I wonder if he thinks that Providence college would also be eligible to receive funding.

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, Providence actually already does receive funding from the prov­incial gov­ern­ment.

      This change does not increase that funding or give them new op­por­tun­ities. It simply recognizes what is currently happening by aligning them with the other in­sti­tutions that do the same things that they do. They already do receive funding, though.

Madam Speaker: Any further questions?

Mrs. Cox: We know that Providence does very im­por­tant work in our province–you know, provides a number of degrees and masters as well.

      I just wanted to ask the member if he, you know–once we unanimously pass this amend­ment this morning, if he can provide us with a date when this could, in fact, become legis­lation?

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, if this goes through, it takes effect September this year.

Mr. Moses: I just would like to get some clarity from the member as to a point in the bill where it says–it exempts Providence from following the tuition fees and student fees guide­line.

      I'd like to ask the member why this part was included in the bill, to exempt Providence from following tuition fees and student fees guide­lines.

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, that's a very good question.

      My under­standing is that was an agree­ment that the apartment–the de­part­ment was amenable to. If the member seeks further clarity, I'm happy to provide that.

Madam Speaker: Are there any further questions?

Mr. Moses: I'd just like to ask the member, as well, who he fully consulted with the bill, whether he had a detailed in‑depth con­sul­ta­tion process with admin­is­tra­tion, with faculty, with students at Providence to see whether this change would be supported by all those folks.

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, thank you.

      Well, there's been quite a flurry of con­ver­sa­tions and emails. I did consult with admin­is­tra­tion. I've discussed this with members of faculty. And also, as is mentioned, with students, I think there's sort of a question that people close to the in­sti­tution or who know about the in­sti­tution have asked. And they've said, look, like why are–you know, they're a real uni­ver­sity. I mean, you can take your degrees to U of M or any other uni­ver­sity and everyone recognizes those things. Are they a fully fledged recog­nized in­sti­tution in our province?

      It turns out that this is the change that crosses that finish line. So, I did–

Madam Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr. Moses: I'd like to just finalize by asking the member, why is this coming forward now? I–you know, I know that Providence has been, you know, expanding and growing their accreditation, growing their campus. And, you know, over the many years, of course, they're approaching their 100th anniversary soon.

      But why is this coming forward now? And I just wanted maybe get a little bit more context as to what spe­cific­ally Providence has been doing or talking to the member as to why he's bringing forward this bill right now.

Mr. Micklefield: Yes, I actually–I think it's a very good question.

      And the reason that it's coming forward now, it's because the in­sti­tution wanted to make sure that every T was crossed and every I dotted. They really wanted to look into this and make sure they understood what they're getting into.

      And as I interacted with them and said, look, you recog­nize that this increases min­is­terial oversight, you recog­nize that you have to have certain policies. You have to have certain bodies. You have to be set up in a certain way. And they did recog­nize and where there was need to review or make sure, they wanted to do that. And that's why we've come to this place today. I'm confident and so are they that things are ready–

Madam Speaker: The member's time has expired.

      The time for this question period has expired.


Madam Speaker: Debate is open.

Mr. Jamie Moses (St. Vital): I'm pretty happy to be speaking today with respect to Bill 237.

      I thank the member across the way for bringing this forward because it gives us the op­por­tun­ity to talk about Providence college. And they have done some significantly good work in our province in terms of edu­ca­ting Manitobans and provi­ding really good quality edu­ca­tion the–both at the college and the uni­ver­sity level.

      First, I want to begin by paying special thanks to a meeting I had with regards to this bill, with Providence 'prezjident' Kenton Anderson, as well as Ed Buller and Joan Franz. And I wanted to parti­cularly thank them for their–provi­ding their insight onto the good work that Providence does, ranging from the work that they've done to expand their campus life. And provi­ding really great, high quality edu­ca­tion for students, as well as ensuring that it is of quality with professors and faculty at that doctoral level.

      They clearly advocate in and express joy over their aviation program, which is a high­light and a parti­cularly im­por­tant field at Providence. Not just for that in­sti­tution but also, I think, you know, there's been many stories about the im­por­tant need for further edu­ca­tion when it comes to aviation. Not just in Manitoba, but nationally and even globally, with the need for more people able to fly.

* (10:50)

      We saw that be a barrier with recent news stories about issues of people travelling–issues travelling northern–to northern Manitoba, spe­cific­ally with judges and people in the Justice De­part­ment having dif­fi­cul­ty flying to northern com­mu­nities in order to do their process in the justice system, and that was largely due to lack of pilots. And so, I recog­nize Providence's role in training pilots through their aviation program that does really good work in Manitoba.

      And as well, you know, I also want to give a shout‑out to Providence, who is coming up on their 100th anniversary, as the member across the way mentioned. Two more years, Madam Speaker. They're in their 98th year, and they'll be having a big milestone anniversary as well.

      Now, we know that they obviously did start in Winnipeg and moved out to Otterburne right now, and I know that, you know, they have a very unique campus there–on there. And I want to also high­light the fact that they've taken really im­por­tant steps to reduce their carbon emissions in their campus–on their actual land and their buildings, where they have used biomass in some of their facilities as a way to decarbonize some of their buildings on their campus at Providence Uni­ver­sity College.

      And so, I think that's a really–it shows their growth, shows the growth of an in­sti­tution like Providence, who, you know, from humble beginnings 98 years ago, have grown in, incorporated and started giving out degrees in the 1990s, and have continued to progress, to the point where now they're looking for the status of being listed as a uni­ver­sity here in Manitoba.

      I think one of the im­por­tant things, as I mentioned in the question period, is to look at other, you know, relatively like, or relatively similar in­sti­tutions in Manitoba, and namely I'll point to Canadian Mennonite Uni­ver­sity, who is listed in The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Act. And one of the things that they have is they have a specific bill, The Canadian Mennonite Uni­ver­sity Act, which clearly outlines a few details and specifics.

      And I know that Providence is, and that's–and my con­ver­sa­tion with Kenton and Ed and Joan, they've clearly outlined the good gov­ern­ance structure that Providence has. And I also note that Canadian Mennonite Uni­ver­sity has those structures and those councils, and the board listed in its own piece of legis­lation. It's listed in its own piece of legis­lation.

      The Canadian Mennonite Uni­ver­sity Act spe­cific­ally talks about the council that is–that must be required by legis­lation, the composition of that council, the role of the council, the duties of the council, specific carve‑outs in the legis­lation about board of governors and the competition of the board and powers of the board.

      Now, these are im­por­tant details, Madam Speaker, when it comes to being listed in The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Act, because it gives Manitobans–especially when it's being listed as a uni­ver­sity–it gives Manitobans the awareness that the in­sti­tution's going to be fully trans­par­ent. Not only does it have those required areas listed out, and they're doing the good work of good gov­ern­ance, but they're also being fully trans­par­ent with it, and they're being able to put it in a piece of legis­lation in its own act, its own bill, so that all Manitobans are ensured that they're going to continue to provide good gov­ern­ance to their in­sti­tution.

      Obviously, Providence has been provi­ding good gov­ern­ance; it's lasted almost 100 years. But I think taking the step of having its own piece of legis­lation would allow certainty for many Manitobans, who want–who inspire–want to have con­fi­dence in their uni­ver­sities through­out Manitoba.

      And I think that, you know, as we look at even recent reports, that the Minister of Advanced Edu­ca­tion and myself had had discussions with in the past recent days regarding the Auditor General's report on post‑secondary. The report called for greater trans­par­ency in our in­sti­tutions and ensuring that all of our in­sti­tutions across the province have account­ability.

      And I think for us, perhaps, to make this change, it would, you know, certainly be a step for Providence; however, it might not actually feed into what the Auditor General has called on, which is greater trans­par­ency and greater account­ability.

      And so, I think that it's im­por­tant for us to follow the right process here when it comes to this bill, comes to this idea. While I think it's, you know, very, you know–I think it's very im­por­tant to recog­nize the tre­men­dous work that Providence is doing in our province, it's also im­por­tant for us, as legis­lators, and folks who are respon­si­ble for really good gov­ern­ance of the post‑secondary in­sti­tutions in our province–it's im­por­tant for us to make sure that all Manitobans are going to know about the–have con­fi­dence in the trans­par­ency and the account­ability.

      And so I think it's im­por­tant for us to ensure that, you know, at least on a similar level to what Canadian Mennonite Uni­ver­sity has done with having their own act which spells out and lists out the roles, duty of respon­si­bility of council, boards of governors and processes of that like, that we also see the similar type of actions and type of framework for Providence Uni­ver­sity College.

      And to close, Madam Speaker, I want to just high­light some of the really im­por­tant work–continue to high­light some of the really im­por­tant work that Providence Uni­ver­sity College has been doing. Now they've actually taken some really strong steps in terms of adding value–and I know that this is one of their goals, is to really add value to the student ex­per­ience and to not just teach from a lens of, you know, sitting down and learning from a classroom perspective, but also put that into actual real‑world meaning and context. And that's one of the unique experiences that I know that–Providence has a goal for all of its programmings and all of its dealing with student life.

      Their–another goal of theirs, I know, Madam Speaker, is to grow human and financial resources. So I want–I know that their goal is to make sure that every student who comes across their campus and their pro­gram­ming has an ex­per­ience, makes connections, builds their own humanity and finds ways to connect with not only them­selves in a better way and a more positive way, but also with their com­mu­nity.

      And so I think that it's very im­por­tant for us to recog­nize that good work that Providence college has done over many, many years to thank them for–and I thank spe­cific­ally President Kenton Anderson and Ed Buller and Joan Franz. And to say that, you know, we want to move this process forward, we want to make sure that it's done the right way, that we follow good gov­ern­ance and trans­par­ency and account­ability processes, and that, you know, that we are very thankful for all the advanced edu­ca­tion and post­secondary skills that they are bringing into our province of Manitoba.

      Like was mentioned, the accreditation that Providence provides is being recog­nized not only in Manitoba, but across the country. And so I thank and I commend Providence college for all the really good work that they do.

      Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mr. Mark Wasyliw (Fort Garry): I'm pleased to be able to join the con­ver­sa­tion on this bill this morning.

      This bill amends The Advanced Edu­ca­tion Administration Act to include Providence Uni­ver­sity College and Theological Seminary as a uni­ver­sity dealt with under this act.

      Hearing from the member opposite as to the purpose of this–I mean, it's certainly–I can understand that this is a natural evolution for quite an esta­blished in­sti­tution, and that it's growing and wants to have those designations in order to continue to grow.

      And certainly, I'm very sup­port­ive of their ambition, but the bill doesn't just stop there. It also exempts from the guide­lines for uni­ver­sity tuition fees and student fees. And I don't think enough time was spent on that, and that–especially with this gov­ern­ment, when you're talking about funding and money, it's always a red flag for Manitobans, and they always have to be cautious when dealing with this gov­ern­ment, because obviously this government has a track record that warrants caution. They've–

Madam Speaker: Order, please.

      When this matter is again before the House, the hon­our­able member will have nine minutes remaining.

* (11:00)

Debate on Resolutions

Res. 9–Calling the Federal Gov­ern­ment to Absorb the Cost of Increased RCMP Salaries

Madam Speaker: The hour is now 11 a.m. and time for private members' reso­lu­tions. The reso­lu­tion before us this morning is the reso­lu­tion on Calling the Federal Gov­ern­ment to Absorb the Cost of Increased RCMP Salaries.

Introduction of Guests

Madam Speaker: And before I recog­nize the next speaker, I would like to welcome some students that have just joined us in the gallery.

      We have seated in the public gallery, from École J.B. Mitchell, 26 grade 4‑5 students under the direction of Julia Carreiro and Camille Michalik. And this group is located in the con­stit­uency of the hon­our­able member for Tuxedo (Mrs. Stefanson).

      On behalf of all hon­our­able members here, we welcome you to the Manitoba Legislature.

* * *

Madam Speaker: So, I will now recog­nize debate on this private member's reso­lu­tion, and it is standing in the name of the hon­our­able member for The Maples, who has seven minutes remaining.

Mr. Mintu Sandhu (The Maples): It is my honour to rise again to put a few comments on the PMR brought forward by my friend from Dauphin, Calling on the Federal Gov­ern­ment to Absorb the Cost of Increased RCMP Salaries.

      Madam Speaker, when I was going about whereabouts and therefore to be resolved at the end of that, I will read first, that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba call on the prov­incial gov­ern­ment to adequately and fairly fund RCMP and increase wages–to negotiate it, rather than putting that burden on Manitoba munici­palities.

      Madam Speaker, we are agreed with–on the bottom. We are set the therefore to be resolved that federal gov­ern­ment should fund the extra costs that will otherwise be put on Manitoba munici­palities, which is around $45 million. But again, also, there–Madam Speaker, there's some misleading information in this PMR. I know the member from Dauphin doesn't really mean–it is, probably, is written by one of the Premier's (Mrs. Stefanson) staff or someone else.

      I see in whereabout–whereas, it says that coali­tions defund, and there's a few other misleading infor­ma­tion, Madam Speaker. And this is going to–like, creating a fake news. And we have heard this from the PCs so many times. And actually, this is where they are trying to scare Manitobans. But Manitobans are smart. They know, they can see it, what it is written here and this is completely misleading and fake.

      And also, Madam Speaker, when I left it off on last Tuesday, I was talking about the statement that AMM sent out. This is where they're asking the federal gov­ern­ment to fund the extra cost for the policing in the munici­palities because they were not consulted at the–when this deal was negotiated.

      Again, after we talked about con­sul­ta­tion, Madam Speaker, even this PC gov­ern­ment, their track record doesn't have where they consult people. They never have consulted front‑line workers. And even right now, our allied health-care pro­fes­sionals are on strike, and for the last five years, their contract is not negotiated.

      And, Madam Speaker, the AMM, that statement I was talking about was endorsed by the Union British Columbia Munici­palities, Alberta munici­palities–Rural Municipalities of Alberta, Saskatchewan Urban Munici­palities Association, Saskatchewan association of ruler munici­palities, Association of Manitoba Munici­palities and Nova Scotia Federation of Munici­palities.

      Again, Madam Speaker, this is where–not only here in Manitoba, across Canada, but, yes, muni­cipalities are asking for this to be funded by a federal gov­ern­ment that–they negotiated the new contract. And we are agreed that this should be funded by the federal gov­ern­ment.

      And I also, Madam Speaker–we can't just let this one off. We're–we can also see what impacts the prov­incial gov­ern­ment's cuts to our munici­palities have on everyday Manitobans. We believe Manitoba munici­palities deserve strong prov­incial support to excel and provide great services to their citizens.

      Madam Speaker, last seven years, this PC gov­ern­ment has frozen funding for the municipalities here in Manitoba. And not only the funding they have frozen; they also cut the 50‑50 funding for the Winnipeg Transit, which is an extra cost, too, not only to municipalities. Where will the munici­palities get that money from? They–the money will come from the residents who live here in Winnipeg.

Mr. Reg Helwer, Acting Speaker, in the Chair

      So, this is again, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker; yes, this is extra cost that the prov­incial gov­ern­ment should be funding, like, where this–frozen the funding for the last seven years. And finally, because the NDP committed, even before the election, that we will be lifting the freeze on the funding to the munici­palities–and the PC gov­ern­ment didn't follow through; again, this is one of the NDP's first promise that we'll upheld.

      So, Madam–Mr. Deputy Speaker, munici­palities should have long-term predictable funding that grows with the economy. The PCs kept operating grants for munici­palities frozen for seven years, leaving munici­palities with no support. At the same time, the Province continued increased demands to Manitoba munici­palities. The PC gov­ern­ment forced munici­palities to pay for radios needed for the emergency com­muni­cation system. This could cost some munici­palities hundreds of dollars–and hundreds of millions of dollars.

      Again, we are agreed that the federal gov­ern­ment should fund this extra cost, where otherwise, Manitoba munici­palities will be forced to download those same costs to their residents. Or even the prov­incial gov­ern­ment should come to the table and provide predictable funding to the munici­palities so they don't have to again and again ask. You know, if they have a predict­able funding, they can plan for the future.

      Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Reg Helwer): Thank you.

      The MLA for St. Johns. [interjection] Sorry. The hon­our­able member for St. Johns (MLA Fontaine).

MLA Nahanni Fontaine (St. Johns): Well, Acting Deputy Speaker, I'm pleased to put a couple of words on the record this morning in respect of the PC gov­ern­ment's private member's reso­lu­tion, Calling on the Federal Gov­ern­ment to Absorb the Cost of Increased RCMP Salaries.

      I think I–where I'd like to go this morning in the very short period that I have, because, of course, as the Acting Deputy Speaker would know, each and every one of us on this side of the House could probably stand on the record of the PC gov­ern­ment, since 2016, to deteriorate Manitoba, parti­cularly in respect of public safety or the construction of public safety. We could stand up in this House for hours on end, each and every one of us, just to share and remind Manitobans; although Manitobans don't need to be reminded. They see it every day, the just abysmal way in which the PC gov­ern­ment and each and every one of the members opposite have failed Manitobans in its totality.

      I think that everybody, you know, coming to work here, coming to the Leg. in the morning, including members opposite, would also see the ways in which they have failed miserably Manitobans, just driving here and trying to avoid, like, all of the potholes.

* (11:10)

      And so, that's a very tangible example of the ways that this gov­ern­ment have failed Manitobans, so much so that we can't even drive on our streets without trying to, like, avert disaster.

      But one of the ways that we can, or Manitobans see the way that the PC gov­ern­ment has failed is in respect of homicide rates here, parti­cularly if we were to look in Winnipeg. And I want to put on the record some of the–I didn't go that far back, but I went back to 2014, Acting Deputy Speaker.

      In 2014, in Winnipeg, there were 27 homicides. Again, as I'm sure everybody in the Chamber recognizes, and Manitobans that are watching this, or will watch it, those represent 27 families–27 families of Manitobans that are dealing with the aftermath of a very hurtful and traumatizing crime. So, in 2014, there were 27 homicides.

      In 2015, there were 22 homicides. In 2016, there were 25 homicides. In 2017, 24; in 2018, 22. And then, in 2019, we get 44 homicides. That's double from the year before. So, double the homicides just in Winnipeg. And again, I want to stress that this is just in Winnipeg. So, 44 in 2019.

      In 2020, we get 41 homicides here in Winnipeg. In 2021, we get 45 homicides just here in Winnipeg. And then, extra­ordin­arily, and tragically, in 2022, we get 53 homicides in Winnipeg, which is a sig­ni­fi­cant jump–or, increase from when I started relaying these numbers back in 2014; or even if we were to go to 2018 of 22 homicides.

      So, in 2022, last year, there were 53 homicides in Winnipeg. So far in 2023, we're sitting at 10 homi­cides.

      Now, why am I, you know, reading these statistics out into the public record? Because what is clear here is that there is con­se­quences to the austerity measures and to the cuts and the callousness of members opposite. And so we start to see those numbers climb, and then explode and go through the roof in, you know, 2020–or, 2019, 2020, '21 and '22.

      There are con­se­quences to when a gov­ern­ment is in power that truly does not care about the well‑being and safety and basic needs of its citizens. And the con­se­quences are that people are more at risk to come into conflict with the law, and are more vul­ner­able, and are at risk for greater percentages of violence.

      And so, you know, on this side of the House, we re­peat­edly talk about the need, and the very urgent need, to deal with the root causes of why folks come into conflict of–with law; the root causes of why folks become victims in this, as well; and we barely–I mean, I can't even go back–I mean, I've been elected, what, seven years now–I can barely remember members opposite ever getting up in the House and putting forward a reso­lu­tion in the morning, or putting forward a private member's bill that says, you know, we, as the gov­ern­ment, have to do better at addressing and tackling the root causes of becoming in conflict with the law.

      I'm pretty sure that if I were to canvass my members here and those of us that have been here since 2016 when this gov­ern­ment–this PC gov­ern­ment took office, if–I'm pretty sure that if I were to canvass them, they, too, would have a very, very hard time drawing upon memories of con­ver­sa­tions or debates in the House that centred taking care of Manitobans.

      When you don't take care of Manitobans' housing needs, when you don't take care of Manitobans' food insecurity, when you don't provide op­por­tun­ities for training and em­ploy­ment, when you don't, you know, when you don't provide op­por­tun­ities for people to get the health for the–or to get the supports for the mental health issues that they're dealing with, when you don't provide opportunities or care to deal with Manitobans that are dealing with addictions, it is a bad mix and it's a bad cocktail. It's a toxic cocktail of ensuring that the most vul­ner­able only become more vul­ner­able.

      And almost, in many respects, pushing people to become in conflict with the law. Because, in many respects, what other choices do they have? And so, it's disappointing to be up today, you know, in respect of the language that's embedded in this private member's reso­lu­tion–that is devoid or bereft of any acknowl­edgement of caring for Manitobans, ensuring that, as a gov­ern­ment, we put and we take into account the needs and the best interest of Manitobans.

      And so then what ends up happening is you have a discussion or a debate this morning that is not fulsome, and is leaving out this whole other piece that  we need to be discussing and we need to be tackling in a very concrete way. Because again, under the PCs, since 2016–so under the so‑called leadership of Brian Pallister and under the so‑called leadership of this current Premier (Mrs. Stefanson), homicide rates–and, you know, if you're looking at a spectrum of things that can occur when coming into conflict with the law or things that occur for victims, homicide rate is–being murdered is literally over here.

      And that rate has exploded under the admin­is­tra­tion of this PC gov­ern­ment. And one would think that seeing those numbers, you'd think to yourself, like, maybe we should start caring about Manitobans, maybe we should be doing more at the Cabinet table to address the needs of Manitobans.

      But no, members opposite are–don't care about that and aren't doing that.

The Acting Speaker (Reg Helwer): The member's time has expired.

      The MLA for–or, the hon­our­able member for St. James.

Mr. Adrien Sala (St. James): It's an honour to have an op­por­tun­ity to speak to this reso­lu­tion that's been brought forward and to offer some comments today. The thrust of this reso­lu­tion is about ensuring that munici­palities have what they need to adequately fund police services in this province and, ultimately, to help to minimize public safety risks to Manitobans across the province, and, of course, spe­cific­ally, to ensure that the federal gov­ern­ment is paying their share to ensure that municipalities can afford the costs of provi­ding policing services to their residents.

      On that specific aspect of this reso­lu­tion, we agree that's im­por­tant. Munici­palities should not be forced to shoulder this sig­ni­fi­cant jump in the cost of provi­ding those services. The $43 million is sig­ni­fi­cant and would have a very negative impact on the ability of munici­palities to do what they do and to serve resi­dents.

* (11:20)

      But coming from this gov­ern­ment, this reso­lu­tion rings very hollow, Mr.  Acting Deputy Speaker. Firstly, because this gov­ern­ment, of course, has been a major contributor to the inability of munici­palities to adequately fund services; one of which, of course, is policing services in their com­mu­nities.

      So, there's an absurdity to this gov­ern­ment coming forward and talking about the need to ensure that munici­palities have what they need to provide policing services, given they them­selves are chiefly respon­si­ble for reducing funding to munici­palities that has impacted their ability to provide policing services to residents.

      Secondly, the reason this reso­lu­tion rings very hollow is that the spirit of this reso­lu­tion is ultimately about improving com­mu­nity safety, improving public safety, but we know that this reso­lu­tion is coming from a gov­ern­ment that has done every­thing they can, it seems, to maximize the potential for crime in Manitoba. And as my colleague from St. Johns did a great job pointing out, we're seeing those violent crime levels in Manitoba es­cal­ate under this gov­ern­ment as a result of the economic and social con­di­tions that they've created in this province.

      We can stay without hesitation that this gov­ern­ment seems to have done every­thing they can to maximize the potential for crime in Manitoba. That's clear, and everyone on this side of the House sees that every day in our com­mu­nities; we recog­nize those challenges. This gov­ern­ment has done that by–in a number of ways, but I'd like to take a moment here just to list a couple of those ways that they've con­tri­bu­ted to the existence of crime in our com­mu­nities.

      One of the big failures of this gov­ern­ment has been their failure to invest in housing: social housing, affordable housing. This creates des­per­ate situations for individuals who need to meet–to get a roof over their head, who have economic needs. And again, if you create a con­di­tion where people become des­per­ate and they don't have access to what they need, or to support their family, you're creating con­di­tions under which crime will occur.

      They've made cuts to restorative justice programs that supported ensuring that offenders of crimes are able to find ways of remediating or responding to the challenges they've created, and offering them a path away from the carceral system, away from our prison system, towards doing good, towards contributing and doing positive things for communities, and helping them to avoid further en­gage­ment with our justice system.

      They cut programs in four of our jails, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that provided supports to allow inmates to develop trade skills: carpentry, electrical. The kind of things that would offer them em­ploy­ment op­por­tun­ities when they get out of prison, that can contribute to their ability to make a good life for them­selves and avoid going down that path and making those types of choices in response to economic desperation.

      They've made cuts to–huge cuts to neighbour­hood renewal cor­por­ations that provided essential op­por­tun­ities for kids in our com­mu­nities to have access to good-quality pro­gram­ming, youth pro­gram­ming that gave kids in our com­mu­nities–and some of our higher needs com­mu­nities–some­thing to do; a way to spend their time in a positive way. We know that when kids are facing higher levels of poverty and economic challenges, social challenges at home, they need access to those types of supports and those types of programs.

      What did this gov­ern­ment do? Huge cuts to neighbourhood renewal cor­por­ations, like the Daniel McIntyre renewal cor­por­ation that had to lay off all their staff and cut all of their pro­gram­ming for kids in that com­mu­nity.

      That's the root cause of crime, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. That's where crime begins, when we disin­vest from our com­mu­nities; when we take away invest­ments in those kind of initiatives that help give our kids, families op­por­tun­ities, things to do.

      This gov­ern­ment is respon­si­ble for making those cuts, and contributing to creating con­di­tions where crime can flourish, and we've seen the impacts of that without question.

      And, of course, it has to be said, and as many of my colleagues have said over and over and over again, this gov­ern­ment's failure to adequately invest in mental‑health supports for Manitobans, and to ad­equately invest in addictions services and sup­ports, is also a sig­ni­fi­cant driver of this big increase in crime that we've seen in Manitoba, in every corner of our province.

      So again, the spirit of this reso­lu­tion, which is ultimately about keeping people safer. This gov­ern­ment, you know, with their recent efforts at looking like they're going to be, quote, unquote, tough on crime–they are single-handedly respon­si­ble for creat­ing the sig­ni­fi­cant increases in crime that Manitobans are facing now. That needs to be made very clear in this House.

      You know, not only have they created the con­di­tions for crime–the social and economic con­di­tions for crime to increase, and we're seeing the impacts of that, but they've also created the con­di­tions where we're less able to respond to the very problems that they've created.

      And they've done that because they've reduced our ability to respond to crime through their defunding of munici­palities, which by extension, is the true–is truly an act of defunding policing in Manitoba. They like to talk about us in this sort of caricature–in a caricature-like manner. In reality, this gov­ern­ment and every single one of those members has worked to defund the police in Manitoba.

      How have they done that? Through seven con­secutive years of funding freezes to munici­palities. If anyone is respon­si­ble for defunding the police in Manitoba, it's the Conservative gov­ern­ment; that needs to be made crystal clear.

      And I can say, just as a west Winnipegger, as somebody who lives in St. James, here's the ex­per­ience that people in our end of the city have as a result of this gov­ern­ment's cuts to municipalities and, by extension, their defunding of the police in Manitoba.

      Our ex­per­ience in west Winnipeg–we had a–I had a homeowner in west Winnipeg reach out to my office who had a home invasion. While they were home, husband and wife, they called the police from their upstairs bedroom. While they were on the phone with the police, the individuals–the home invasion and those respon­si­ble left the home.

      The homeowners expected the police to come to  their home to pay them a visit, and they didn't come that night, they didn't come the next morning and they didn't come for three days, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. And that led to me engaging with the west Winnipeg inspector respon­si­ble for the Winnipeg Police, Inspector Max Waddell.

      I had a meeting with him. And I went to visit him at his office in the single police station remaining in west Winnipeg. And this is in the middle of the week, in the morning. And I went to the door, to open the door to the police station, and it was locked; you couldn't get in. And when I came in the door, there was a row of five wickets that were there to serve the public. The lights were off. Nobody was there to serve west Winnipeggers who had concerns about their public safety.

      And when I met with the inspector, what I learned is that, in west Winnipeg, we have a total of seven police cruisers on the road at any given time. And 10 years ago, when we had 50,000 less residents in west Winnipeg, do you know how many police cars we had in west Winnipeg on the streets? Seven.

      That is an example of how this gov­ern­ment has been defunding the police, and the ex­per­ience for people in west Winnipeg. We have seen a sig­ni­fi­cant decrease in access to policing services in west Winnipeg. That's just a fun­da­mental reality and a by‑product of this gov­ern­ment's decision making, and the way that they have ultimately frozen funding for municipalities and, again, by extension, defunded a variety of munici­pal services, policing being one of them.

      That's the cold, hard reality for Manitobans. This gov­ern­ment is respon­si­ble for creating the con­di­tions in which crime has flourished, and they've also gone further and made it harder for us to now respond to those public safety concerns because of their huge freezes to munici­pal budgets.

      That's wrong. This reso­lu­tion rings hollow.

      Thank you very much, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Ian Bushie (Keewatinook): Thank you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, for the op­por­tun­ity to share a few words on this morning's private member's reso­lu­tion, which is Calling on the Federal Gov­ern­ment to Absorb the Cost of Increased RCMP Salaries.

      And that being the title of the title of the reso­lu­tion–and there's a number of whereases in the reso­lu­tion, but I'll kind of high­light the therefore be it resolved: that the Legis­lative Assembly of Manitoba call on the federal gov­ern­ment to adequately and fairly fund the RCMP and increased wage that it negotiated, rather than putting that burden on Manitoba munici­palities.

      And why I went from the title of the reso­lu­tion to the therefore be it resolved is because there's a lot of deflection and passing of respon­si­bility within all the whereases in the reso­lu­tion this morning. And I say that because that's almost the entire methodology that this gov­ern­ment uses.

* (11:30)

      They're going to cut, cut, cut and then blame, blame, blame somebody else for the deficiencies in whatever it may be, whether it be health care, edu­ca­tion. And in this case, we're talking about the RCMP, we're talking about crime, we're talking about funding of the policing.

      At the end of the day, the burden that's being put on munici­palities, while it may be a component of this, it is largely due to a number of cuts over six, seven years of this gov­ern­ment. And now it's just catching up to them. So now–all of those cuts and every­thing they've done leading up to today is the accumulation of all those cuts.

      So, now we're sitting here with a number of emergent situations that are happening on the daily basis. And here we are with the increased RCMP salary issue now coming to the doorstep of the munici­palities. But that is due to this gov­ern­ment, but this gov­ern­ment will not accept that respon­si­bility.

      And, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have a back­ground, before coming to this Chamber, in restorative justice program in my com­mu­nity. And the basis for a restorative justice program is also accepting some respon­si­bility. So that is some­thing that is missing, is significantly missing from this gov­ern­ment. And that's the acceptance of respon­si­bility.

      And, in this case, accepting the respon­si­bility that their cuts and their agendas over six and seven years have now led us to where we are today in Manitoba and in the justice system, in the salary and munici­palities and the emergency situation that they're having now, with having to potentially find these dollars in their budgets.

      And this gov­ern­ment is going to say–and it's true, you know–it's limited budgets that the munici­palities have, but accept respon­si­bility as to why that's the case today. That is the case because of this gov­ern­ment. That is the case because of the freezes that this gov­ern­ment has imple­mented.

      And now that it's coming to the forefront and they're saying, no, this–no more. Well, what do they do? They blame somebody else. Let's blame the federal gov­ern­ment. Let's blame the federal NDP, the federal Liberals, the prov­incial NDP. Let's blame everybody else except them­selves. And that's where the blame needs to be. That's where the accepting the respon­si­bility needs to be; it needs to be with this gov­ern­ment.

      It's easy to say we're going to put out a reso­lu­tion and we're going to say we're going to blame somebody else for their shortcomings; we're going to blame somebody else because there's not enough dollars; we're going to blame somebody else because of the increase in crime. But the fact of the matter is, that's an accumulation of every­thing this gov­ern­ment has done in their term–in their two terms.

      And even when they stand up in the Chamber and they talk about, you know, the previous gov­ern­ment this. Again, we've made it very clear. They are the previous gov­ern­ment. So that gets into that six-, seven-year term that we're talking about.

      So that's where, when we have reso­lu­tions such as this come to the forefront and we have an emergent situation because there's a lack of financial resources, we know the root cause of that. That's this gov­ern­ment. This gov­ern­ment is the root cause of why munici­palities are in this situation. They're the root cause as to why the munici­palities are saying, we don't have the resources, we don't have enough. And the root cause–and they'll never say that. They'll talk about, oh, you know, we lifted the freeze, you know, and they want to make this grand story. But they'll never talk about the fact that it–well, you lifted it because you put it in place. It was there for X number of years.

      So, when reso­lu­tions such as this come out and this gov­ern­ment wants to then say it's somebody else's fault, it's somebody else's respon­si­bility, all we ask then is you accept your own respon­si­bility. Nowhere in here does it even say they're trying. Nowhere in this reso­lu­tion does it say, this gov­ern­ment has exhausted all their own resources, and we have no other choice but to call on the federal gov­ern­ment to do this. Nowhere does it say that. Instead, it's blame some­body else; blame somebody else for their shortcom­ing; blame somebody else because there's not enough dollars.

      And we've seen that time and time again over the course of the pandemic, that this gov­ern­ment has got increased dollars in whatever program may be. And they're simply not spending it where they need to spend it. They're simply spending it to try and make them­selves look good in other areas to try deflect that respon­si­bility and point blame to somebody else for the shortcomings of this gov­ern­ment.

      So, when they talk about terminology like de­funding the police, that is them. That is the gov­ern­ment in Manitoba that is doing that. They are doing that over a variety of different programs, over a variety of different years simply because they don't want address the issues that will potentially make them look bad. They want to have the good news stories and say, you know what, we're doing every­thing we can. When the simple matter is, you are not. You are not doing every­thing you can. You're not doing every­thing you can with the resources that are at your disposal. And there's a lot of resources at the gov­ern­ment's disposal to be able to address this issue, to be able to address and help and assist munici­palities to overcome some of this.

      Yes, there is some call on the federal gov­ern­ment to come to the table here also. But at the same time, nowhere in this reso­lu­tion does it ever accept the respon­si­bility and the shortcomings because of this gov­ern­ment's cuts. And that's exactly, here in Manitoba, where that needs to lie, and that needs to have that con­ver­sa­tion.

      But this gov­ern­ment will not want to have that con­ver­sa­tion because it's going to come to light the fact that they froze the munici­palities' funding. They've shorted the munici­palities in a number of different areas, and here we are, in an election year, say, oh we're going to do this, we're going to, you know, increase this, increase that. At the end of the day, within their term, it's a net loss.

      You know, if those munici­palities had 100 per cent of their budget in 2016 when Brian Pallister was here, and then slowly, you know what, they lost 10 per cent here, 10 per cent there, in whatever program it may be, and over the course of those six years, they've lost, you know, 40 per cent of their budget; then, all of a sudden, the gov­ern­ment's going to come back, we're going to double your budget. Well, you know what, that was less than we had when you started.

      So when we talk about reso­lu­tions such as this that are going to call on a different level of gov­ern­ment because of this gov­ern­ment's shortcomings, at least accept that respon­si­bility. I would absolutely stand behind this reso­lu­tion to say that we are going to call on the gov­ern­ment because we just simply don't have enough. We just simply exhausted every­thing we have.

      But that's not the case. That's not the case from this gov­ern­ment here in Manitoba. They're not ex­hausting all they have. They're not doing all they can. They're doing all they can with–around their table to try and help them­selves get re-elected.

      But the fact of the matter is they're not doing whatever they can on behalf of munici­palities, on behalf of all Manitobans. So, again, I get back to–and that's a term that's in my mind and in my heart since, for 20 years now, acceptance of respon­si­bility. And this gov­ern­ment is simply not doing that. They're not accepting the respon­si­bility for what they've done to munici­palities, what they've done to justice, what they've done to increase crime in our society and in our province.

      They will not address that; instead, try and deflect that blame to somebody else, and then say–not only deflect that blame, but also say, those organi­zations, different levels of gov­ern­ment, should pay for that. You know, so what happens in this regard if this goes nowhere, and the federal gov­ern­ment says no, munici­palities, you find that province, you find that whatever you have. You look in your envelope, you look in your budgets, and you find that.

      What's this gov­ern­ment going to do then? Who is this gov­ern­ment going to try and blame then? Because that respon­si­bility and that blame falls on this provin­cial gov­ern­ment, this PC caucus, for all the shortcom­ings and all the damage done to munici­palities.

      Because we're here talking about one issue. But overall, there's a number of different de­part­ments within these munici­palities that are lacking that funding because of this gov­ern­ment, because of the freezes and the cuts made by this gov­ern­ment.

      So, when you sit there and talk about accepting that respon­si­bility, there's none from this gov­ern­ment. Instead, what they want to do in this case–and this is a perfect example of this case–they want to be reactive to a situation. There's no proactive movement on behalf of this gov­ern­ment to say, okay, this is what's going to happen: we need to increase that funding; we need to make sure policing is fully funded in our munici­palities and across our province–when instead they just wait, wait, wait, and all of a sudden there's a shortfall. Well, let's blame the feds. Let's blame the op­posi­tion NDP, even. [interjection]

      You're the ones that have that respon­si­bility. I know the former Cabinet member, who's no longer in Cabinet by the way, is sitting there heckling his way. And I'm sure maybe at some point in time he tried to raise this issue and was kicked out of Cabinet for that, who knows? But the fact of the matter is, when it comes time to accepting that respon­si­bility, even that member opposite will not accept that respon­si­bility.

      He will not accept that respon­si­bility for his role as a Cabinet minister during this time, and those freezes to the munici­palities. And that's shameful, the fact that this gov­ern­ment wants to deflect and blame everybody else but them­selves for what's going on in our province, and they need to accept that respon­sibility, and they need to do that today.


MLA Tom Lindsey (Flin Flon): It doesn't give me a lot of pleasure to stand up again and talk about some nonsense that this gov­ern­ment is intro­ducing, but I will. Because you know what's missing from this debate, is anybody from the other side who's willing to stand up and support their position. They seem to be sitting awfully quiet, so one would think that perhaps maybe they're not all on board with this false flag operation. Let's call it that.

      That's really what it is, is they're trying to misdirect Manitobans' attention away from their own failings by suggesting it's all somebody else's fault. Clearly, as we have heard many speakers on this side say already, that is not the case. It is not the case at all, because this gov­ern­ment, this Stefanson gov­ern­ment, this PC gov­ern­ment, this existing gov­ern­ment in Manitoba has had the ability to properly fund munici­palities, which would have helped them with their policing costs.

* (11:40)

      Now, I'm not suggesting for a minute that the federal gov­ern­ment doesn't have a respon­si­bility to help cover those costs. But this prov­incial gov­ern­ment also has a respon­si­bility, and their respon­si­bility is to Manitoban munici­palities and Manitobans them­selves. And they failed on that all the way around.

      Now, they can say, well, we can't afford it, we don't have any money. But again, that's not exactly true, is it, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker? Because they've got increased transfer funds from the very federal gov­ern­ment that they're blaming for all their problems. Not just transfer funds, but also Health Transfer funds and funds for various things like the $10-a-day child care, that is or isn't really $10 a day, depending on where you are and what shift you work and all the technical aspects that weren't really explained in their big an­nounce­ments.

      So, really, let's lay the blame where it clearly has a respon­si­bility to lay, and that's at the feet of this prov­incial gov­ern­ment. Manitoban munici­palities have been screaming for six years that they need more funding, that the costs of things keep going up. We all know that. We all know that this thing called inflation has happened. The cost of gas has gone up. The cost of parts has gone up. The cost of groceries has gone up.

      And yet, this gov­ern­ment chose to freeze funding for munici­palities and said, well no, you'll have to make do with less. Raise the taxes at the munici­pal level so that the prov­incial gov­ern­ment can lower taxes and look like heroes when in fact, they're the complete opposite of that because they've down­loaded a lot of those costs that they've walked away from onto munici­palities. Things like grass cutting that used to be the purview of the prov­incial gov­ern­ment has now been downloaded onto the munici­pal gov­ern­ment. There's other things involv­ing snow clearing and different things. They froze the 50‑50 funding for bus services that used to be in place. They said, no, no, that's–we're not going to be respon­si­ble for all of that anymore.

      So, at the same time that they would like us all to believe that, oh my goodness, we're all on side of funding the RCMP, this gov­ern­ment is all talk yet again, but not willing to put their money where their mouth is. Because they have failed, very purposely failed to provide funding to munici­palities that could have gone towards covering some of those policing costs.

      What did they do? Well, they got generous transfer funds from the federal gov­ern­ment for various things. Health care–well, that was the intent of some of those transfer funds, but that's not what this gov­ern­ment did with them. No, what they chose to do with those is to cut taxes for wealthy cor­por­ations that aren't even housed in Manitoba.

      And then they decided–this is what good money managers they are–they decided, uh oh, we have to borrow money to pay for those tax cuts rather than actually funding things in this province that needed to be funded. It's just a shame that while they talk law and order and 'rar' 'rar' 'rar,' we've got to do this and we've got to do that and we've got to do some­thing else, they don't do it, Mr. Deputy Speaker. They clearly do not do it. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows it's true.

      You know, they talk that they're tough on crime. Then they all clap like trained monkeys that they're tough on crime. But we all know that again, it's all a shell game. Because things that could have been done to help reduce crime, they didn't do. All kinds of things that were designed to reduce–can't say the word, but to reduce reoffenders from happening. They cut all those funds for the Elizabeth Frye, for the John Howard Society, things that helped people away from a life of crime.

      All this gov­ern­ment wants to do is lock people up. They don't want to actually address the root causes of crime. They don't want to actually address the real causes of why we need more RCMP officers. They want to just say, somebody else needs to pay. We'll lock them up. I don't know where they're going to get all the jails from that they're planning to lock everybody up in, because they won't find those either. Just ask Dauphin, when they shut down their jail.

      Every­thing they talk about is completely not exactly what happens. It's the complete opposite of what really takes place. So, you know, they'd like us to kind of have a wedge issue here that, look at that. The NDP doesn't want to fund the RCMP. And that's completely untrue, again.

      What we want to do is have this prov­incial gov­ern­ment be respon­si­ble for the citizens of Manitoba and do the things that need to be done, rather than just shovelling more taxpayers' money to their rich friends. And that's really the root cause of this problem. They've done nothing to address poverty. They haven't, in one instance, done something to create better em­ploy­ment op­por­tun­ities, to improve edu­ca­tion op­por­tun­ities so that people can get some of these jobs that may or may not actually be available.

      They've done nothing to try and address the 'shortcomes' for edu­ca­tion in northern com­mu­nities. They've done nothing to address the shortfalls when it comes to com­muni­cation issues in the North, in parti­cular where Internet is non-existent, cellphones are non-existent. What does this gov­ern­ment do? They priva­tize it and wash their hands of it and do nothing, which is sad, because if people in this province had the op­por­tun­ity to get proper edu­ca­tion, to get the training they need to do the jobs that are available, there wouldn't be this great hue and cry that we don't have enough workers.

      We do. It's just this gov­ern­ment doesn't want to properly fund those edu­ca­tion op­por­tun­ities. Once people have those jobs that lift them out of poverty, they don't turn to crime because they have a pay­cheque that they can afford to buy groceries with. They have a reason to get out of bed in the morning that they don't turn to drugs and alcohol, that they don't have a life of despair. [interjection]

      The member from Swan River sits in his chair and yaps off, but in reality, what has he done to help his own com­mu­nity in Swan River? Nothing. Nothing. They've done nothing to help poverty in Swan River, and yet he's got lots to say now, when he's not actually standing up in his place. He's got nothing to say in reality when his gov­ern­ment does nothing to help his com­mu­nity.

      So, you know–[interjection]

The Acting Speaker (Reg Helwer): Order.

MLA Lindsey: –it's kind of a shame, but there's a lot of members on the opposite side that have things to say while sitting in their chairs, but won't really stand up and stand in support for people in Manitoba. They stand in support for out-of-province cor­por­ations. Let's give them more money. Let's make sure we priva­tize things, give it to our friends so that they can make money, make life less affordable for the average Manitoban, make it so that the very things that can prevent crime are not done.

      The gov­ern­ment fails, fails, fails continually. And I don't see any change on the horizon. We've had, what, three different premiers? Not one of them has done anything to support Manitobans. They've done the complete opposite. Each one has failed after the last one–after the last one–and it continues to fail, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker.

      It's a shame that this gov­ern­ment disrespects Manitobans the way they do. They've got the op­por­tun­ity to do some­thing better and they just plain refuse.

      Thank you. [interjection]

The Acting Speaker (Reg Helwer): Order.

MLA Uzoma Asagwara (Union Station): Well, I will admit, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that being the guy going after our colleague from Flin Flon is tough right now. That was a riveting debate speech, and I have to say, he really–he nailed so many im­por­tant points.

      And so, a lot of what I'm going to be saying is going to be some­what repetitive. Our colleague from Flin Flon has already spoken quite eloquently on this issue, as has my colleague from St. James, as well.

* (11:50)

      But I do think it's really im­por­tant to start my remarks being very clear, that this PC gov­ern­ment is respon­si­ble for this state of chaos. The issues around safety in our com­mu­nities are their fault.

      This gov­ern­ment has been in power since 2016. If  you were to ask them how long they've been in power, or listen to anything they have to say, you wouldn't know it, Acting Speaker, based on the way that they stand up in this House and point blame and point their fingers at absolutely everybody else across the province, out of Manitoba, internationally. It is everybody else's fault as to what's going on in our province, never theirs.

      This gov­ern­ment is not accountable. This gov­ern­ment takes absolutely zero respon­si­bility for the impacts of their decision making on Manitobans and safety in our com­mu­nity since 2016.

      This is a gov­ern­ment who has defunded the police across our province since 2016. This is a gov­ern­ment that has frozen funding to munici­palities, which has had a direct impact on what organi­zations, RCMP, are able to do in their com­mu­nities. This is a gov­ern­ment that has cut services in all areas of addressing Manitobans' basic needs, which has had a direct impact on Manitobans being able to make decisions that keep their com­mu­nities, their families, their well-being, safe and intact.

      This government has harmed Manitoba in so many ways. And the thing that, quite frankly, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that really worries me, is the fact that it has become so clear, crystal clear, that this gov­ern­ment doesn't even understand what root issues means. This is a gov­ern­ment that just takes what they consider to be buzzwords and insert them into their so-called strategies, and say we're going to address the root issues, because that's really what's going to, you know, fix what's going on in our com­mu­nities.

      And then when you listen to how they actually describe root issues, you realize they have no clue what they're talking about. Because at the same time, this is a gov­ern­ment that has underfunded edu­ca­tion, cut edu­ca­tion. This is a gov­ern­ment that has cut health care to the bone. This is a gov­ern­ment that has cut social services, cut com­mu­nity health services, cut restorative justice services and approaches that we know impact and bring down recidivism in Manitoba.

      This is a gov­ern­ment that has done nothing to address the cost-of-living crisis in our province. They've actually made affordability issues worse. This is a gov­ern­ment that, across the board, has negatively impacted all of the areas that Manitobans need to be strengthened in order for com­mu­nities to be well and safe. [interjection]

      And I know, you know, that the member for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen) wants to heckle me, and the member for Southdale (Ms. Gordon) wants to laugh, because they don't think that what I'm saying carries any weight. But the reality of it is, you can see it every day when we hear from Manitobans that they are seeing right through what this gov­ern­ment says it stands for.

      Manitobans are making explicitly clear that they don't trust this gov­ern­ment to address anything in regards to root issues, and, in fact, Manitobans are stating on a daily basis their growing concerns around the failures of this gov­ern­ment to meet the basic needs of Manitobans.

      We are in a crisis in health care in Manitoba. When we look at the overdose crisis in our province, when we look at the astronomically high rates–highest in the country–of STBBI trans­mis­sion. I'll translate that for members opposite who don't know what that means because I know they haven't been doing their research in this in­cred­ibly im­por­tant area: sexually transmitted blood-borne infections, like syphilis, like HIV, like congenital syphilis, which is entirely pre­ventable and has skyrocketed in Manitoba.

      These are all areas that, if this gov­ern­ment were taking seriously and investing in addressing these needs, we would see com­mu­nities being safer. If this gov­ern­ment took meaningful action to address the crisis of addictions, which is rooted in unaddressed child­hood trauma, adverse childhood impacts–we know that.

      The science and the evidence supports that. It's been telling us that for years. If this gov­ern­ment did anything meaningful to address these areas, com­mu­nities would have a better chance at being well. Well com­mu­nities are safe com­mu­nities.

      And yet this is a gov­ern­ment that won't adequate­ly staff their own de­part­ments in gov­ern­ment, which is part of the reason why when they do make an­nounce­ments but they're not following through on, part of the challenge is because there's inadequate staffing in the de­part­ments.

      But it's also a gov­ern­ment that has done every­thing it can to focus on an austerity agenda, which has weakened our public services across the board.

      And so, we cannot talk about what it means for com­mu­nities to be safe without also talking about what it means for com­mu­nities to be well, and all of these areas are directly related to that.

      And this gov­ern­ment refuses to do the work to understand that; to invest meaningfully in these areas; to be accountable for the decisions that they've made for the past seven years; to have people in leadership positions who care more about people than they do about personal titles.

      This gov­ern­ment has taken an approach which has had such devastating effects across our province. It doesn't matter whether you live in an urban setting or a rural setting or a northern com­mu­nity, Manitobans across the board are, unfor­tunately, living with the harsh realities that this PC gov­ern­ment has refused to put them first since 2016, and the con­se­quences have been, in some cases, catastrophic.

      You know, when we stand up in this House and we talk about issues of recon­ciliation and MMIWG2S, and you've got a gov­ern­ment who can't even speak plainly as to whether or not they're imple­men­ting–actively working to implement the recom­men­dations from the Truth and Recon­ciliation Com­mis­sion's report.

      When we talk about these issues, we are talking about com­mu­nity wellness, we are talking about justice, we are talking about safety. We are talking about all of the areas that, had this gov­ern­ment invested in, taking real steps in the right direction in regards to, we'd be in a much different place in Manitoba.

      Munici­palities have been pleading with this gov­ern­ment for several years to change course, to act as a partner, to properly invest in their com­mu­nities. This gov­ern­ment refused. The only reason why they pivoted and changed course was because they saw that on this side of the House, we were making that commit­ment to munici­palities.

      And this gov­ern­ment said, you know what, that's a good idea. This gov­ern­ment also realized it's an election year, and perhaps they should stop antag­onizing munici­palities. Perhaps they should finally stop treating munici­palities as, you know, non-partners at the table, in the hope that they can buy some votes during an election year, which is a terrible approach.

      It's totally dis­ingen­uous. Manitobans see right through it. And it's not going the way that I think they anticipated that it would.

      Because when you talk to Manitobans on the doorstep, you know when I door-knock in Southdale, when I door-knock in Fort Richmond, when I door-knock in Kirkfield Park, when I door-knock in these com­mu­nities, they're very, very clear about the fact that they see through what this gov­ern­ment is doing.

      They don't like this gov­ern­ment's approach. They know the negative impacts it's having. And they're going to make that very clear when they go to vote in this election.

      So, you know, I think that it's very obvious this gov­ern­ment is completely dis­ingen­uous in their approach. If this gov­ern­ment were serious about com­mu­nity safety, they would also be taking steps to address com­mu­nity wellness, and they would have invested meaningfully in addressing root causes, which I've said already, they don't even understand what that means, since 2016.

      And so, you know, I want to make it clear that no matter where you live in Manitoba, you deserve to be safe. You deserve to feel safe in your neighbourhoods, you deserve to feel and be safe in your homes, and in order for those things to be realized, we do need to adequately fund our public services.

      We need to make sure we're funding munici­palities properly, and we need to make sure that across the board we're addressing root issues and investing in com­mu­nities being well, because well com­mu­nities are safer com­mu­nities.

      Thank you.

Mr. Diljeet Brar (Burrows): I have a few moments to speak to this reso­lu­tion, and–

The Acting Speaker (Reg Helwer): Attention, please. When this matter is again before the House, the hon­our­able member for Burrows will have 10 minutes remaining.

      The hour being 12 p.m., this House is recessed and stands recessed until 1:30 p.m.




Tuesday, April 25, 2023


Vol. 47a



Second Readings–Public Bills

Bill 239–The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (Application Fees and Deposits)

Micklefield  1811


Sala  1812

Micklefield  1812

Cox  1813

Isleifson  1813

Lamont 1813


Sala  1814

Bill 237–The Advanced Education Administration Amendment Act

Micklefield  1816


Moses 1817

Micklefield  1817

Cox  1817

Lamoureux  1817

Isleifson  1818


Moses 1819

Wasyliw   1821

Debate on Resolutions

Res. 9–Calling the Federal Government to Absorb the Cost of Increased RCMP Salaries

Sandhu  1821

Fontaine  1823

Sala  1824

Bushie  1826

Lindsey  1828

Asagwara  1830

Brar 1832