- Despite the rising number of cases, hospitals are running out of room, and new restrictions are forcing people to cancel their holiday plans.
- As the province prepares for more COVID-19 hospitalizations, Stefanson predicts that those waiting will soon have more company.
Although the number of cases is increasing, hospitals are running out of space, and new restrictions are causing holiday plans to be canceled. Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson says her government is doing everything to combat the pandemic.
“I think we did what we did at the time, just based on the information that we had,” she said in response to a question about whether her government could have acted faster in response to the pandemic’s fourth wave, which has pushed Manitoba’s critical-care system to the breaking point, during a year-end interview with CBC.
“However, you always look back and wonder, ‘Could I have done things better?'” What have we learned as a result of this, and how can we proceed?’
“I believe we are all learning daily, and I know I am in this new role and previous roles.”
Stefanson defended her government’s pandemic response, warned of a growing surgical backlog, and questioned the efficacy of supervised consumption sites during the interview.
‘No one has a playbook,’ says the narrator.
Stefanson said she has dealt with difficult situations when asked if she has any regrets. She mentioned her time as health minister earlier this year when she presided over the third pandemic wave, during which 57 hospital patients were sent out of the province for treatment.
“Should we have turned off the lights earlier? Is it possible that we shut things down too much?” Stefanson remarked.
“These are the kinds of things you reflect on from time to time. Is there anything I could have done differently at the time? You do second-guess yourself, but I believe it’s critical to remember that we’re amid a pandemic, and nobody has a playbook for this.”
The long-serving Tuxedo MLA won the Progressive Conservative leadership race last fall and was sworn in as premier in early November, succeeding Brian Pallister. His popularity plummeted in the final months of his term.
Stefanson said that the government could have handled some pandemic decisions better with the benefit of hindsight, but she did not specify which decisions she would change.
That puts her at odds with medical professionals, who claim they warned the Progressive Conservative government to build up the healthcare system’s capacity well ahead of the fourth wave.
The premier said she’s learned to seek advice on dealing with the pandemic from other jurisdictions.
As a result, Manitoba announced new pandemic restrictions last Friday, taking “very swift action,” as she put it before the highly transmissible Omicron variant spread widely across the province.
Manitoba also canceled more elective surgeries this week in addition to those measures. A growing waiting list of more than 152,000 surgical and diagnostic procedures, including more than 56,000 surgeries, was recently estimated by Doctors Manitoba.
As the province prepares for more COVID-19 hospitalizations, Stefanson predicts that those waiting will soon have more company.
“Once we’ve gotten [Manitobans] through the pandemic, we’ll be able to start addressing the surgical backlog,” she said.
“Right now, they’re looking at triage and how that works to make sure they’re dealing with the most urgent cases first, which is what’s going on across the country.”
To address the backlog, a task force will make recommendations. Stefanson stated that he would spend the money to repair it.
She stated, “We are prepared to do whatever it takes to get Manitobans through this.”
Stefanson has taken a more conciliatory approach to governance than Pallister, the opinionated, at times brash premier from whom she has tried to distance herself.
She’s stated several times that she values other people’s opinions, and she’s been seen at events with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand, neither of whom get along with Pallister.
Her efforts to forge a new path have kept her so busy that she claims she hasn’t spoken with Pallister since taking office.
The premier stated, “To be honest, I’ve just been on the ground running” to ensure that the caucus is working together to get Manitoba through the pandemic.
She said she’ll delegate some decisions to others, such as the fate of two statues toppled by protesters on Canada Day after a rally honoring Indigenous children who died in residential schools.
Pallister promised that the monuments to British monarchs would be rebuilt. Stefanson, on the other hand, claims that what matters is what Manitobans want, not her personal preferences.
She said a government committee is looking into options while consulting with Indigenous peoples.
Meanwhile, Stefanson’s political opponents have attempted to compare her administration to Pallister’s.
She, like him, is opposed to a supervised consumption site where addicts can obtain clean needles and have street drugs tested for the presence of harmful chemicals.
Source: CBC News
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