MB Opposition Comments on School Reopening, Economic Recovery Program

MB Opposition Comments on School Reopening, Economic Recovery Program

A week after Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen went on the Barangay Canada vodcast to speak about the September 8 reopening of schools, Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew, along with Notre Dame MLA Malaya Marcelino, joined the August 13 episode to discuss the Official Opposition’s stance on the government’s back-to-school guidelines, as well as its economic recovery program.

Kinew provided a recap of the NDP’s alternative back to school plan. Among them are setting a province-wide cap of 15 students per classroom, finding additional classroom space, providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for staff, providing mental health supports, and additional transportation and drivers. He pointed out that the key to those five recommendations is for the province to invest in schools so that students, teachers and staff will be safe and healthy as they go about the resumption of classroom learning. The details of their proposal can be viewed at https://bit.ly/MB-NDP-alt-back-to-school-plan.

Asked about the possible source of funds for the proposed investments totaling $260 million, Kinew replied, “You could get all that 260 million and more just from the money that’s been underspent from the government programs.” Kinew continued, “The money’s kind of just sitting there right now, so we’re saying put that money to use in the classroom.”

Asked to comment about the provincial government’s back to school plan, MLA Marcelino remarked, “I think the plan…was vague and underwhelming. It was business as usual, with just a little bit of common sense.” She also revealed, “There’s a lot of concerns from educators, to parents such as myself that this is not going to be safe for children, for the workers in schools, and for the surrounding families and communities.”

As the discussion shifted to assessing the government’s pandemic response and its economic recovery program, MLA Marcelino gave positive marks to the management of public health and safety, but she stressed the need for more testing, more support for seniors, and long-term care. She also called on the government to shore up its support for small business, and providing quality, affordable and accessible child care.

As for MLA Kinew, he took aim at #RestartMB, the province’s branded economic recovery program. With the NDP already having released an official statement about it, Kinew added, “It’s premature, it’s self-promotion, and it’s failing to help the actual people in need right now, whether they’re the businessperson, the family looking for child care, or the person in the personal care home. ”

For their parting message, MLA Marcelino assured that in her constituency she will continue focusing on food security especially for people who can’t leave their home or are in a difficult financial situation. As for NDP Leader Kinew, he appealed to Manitobans to continue to be kind, especially to service workers. “It’s going to be a while yet where we have to deal with this new situation. But it’s all going to work better if we respect one another, we’re nice to one another. “

Kris Ontong is an award-winning community advocate and a finalist in the 12th RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. He is the co-founder and vodcast host of BarangayCanada.com