Manitoba government promises new seniors advocate as bills stall in legislature

The Manitoba government plans to establish an advocate office for seniors to examine health care, social services and other programs that affect older generations.

The advocate office, promised by the NDP in last year’s election campaign, would be independent from government and examine individual complaints as well as systemic issues. Like the existing provincial advocate for children and youth, the seniors advocate would report to the legislature in a public manner.

“The mandate … is going to allow for that office to investigate different themes, be it health care, be it housing issues — concerns that we know are top priority for Manitobans,” Uzoma Asagwara, minister for health, seniors and long-term care, said Tuesday.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives accused the NDP of having little regard for seniors since winning last October’s election. The Tories pointed to a decision by the NDP in December to pause some health-care capital projects, including several personal care homes, pending a review of the province’s finances.

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Asagwara wanted to introduce a bill in the legislature Tuesday to set up the new advocate’s office, but the Tories continued to stall debate in the chamber. For a second consecutive day, the Tories used procedural tactics to grind matters to a halt, affecting several bills.

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The delays are unlikely to prevent the bills from becoming law, because the NDP has a solid majority. But the delays can prevent the bills from going to a final vote before the summer break.

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Tuesday was the deadline for the government to introduce bills and have a good chance of getting them passed by summer. Other bills being held up include one that would ban the use of replacement workers during labour disputes.

The ongoing delays were criticized by government house leader Nahanni Fontaine.

“It’s abusing the house and some of the rules and tools we have,” Fontaine said.

Cindy Lamoureux, the lone Liberal legislature member, accused the NDP of being hypocritical because, while in Opposition in 2020, the New Democrats delayed Tory bills and the provincial budget for days.

“They did the very same thing. They did this tactic,” Lamoureux said.


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