‘Be flexible and be smart’: Kinew says he would slow down health care changes, improve technology

It’s an election that may come down to heath care, and the leader of Manitoba’s NDP party says it’s time to do more front-line listening.

In a 25-minute sit down interview with the NDP leader, Kinew argues the changes made in Manitoba health care have occurred too quickly, and the PC leader ignored calls from doctors and nurses to slow down.

“You know, I think one of the mistakes Mr. Pallister has made is just not listening,” said Kinew.

“When red flags were raised in health care, or not listening to the people on the front who said ‘slow down.’ We understand that you’ve got a plan here, but it’s gone off the rails … so what I would want to do as leader is be willing to listen. Be flexible and be smart.”

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While elections are often about throwing someone out of office, it’s rare in Manitoba politics to be a one-term government.

The last time that happened in Manitoba was in 1981 when Sterling Lyon and his PC government was tossed out after one term.

Kinew is aware of this fact and his campaign has largely been about regaining some of those traditional NDP seats lost in the 2016 election. So it comes as no surprise Kinew has pledged to reopen the emergency rooms at the Concordia and Seven Oaks Hospitals, which is traditional NDP territory where many people feel uneasy about change.

Kinew said he guarantees to Manitobans that wait times would come down.

“We will have fewer sick people if we deal with the addictions crisis, with mental health, and have people who are high on meth dealt with by mental health professionals and they don’t go to the E.R.,” said Kinew. “That means your doc is not busy sedating the meth [addicts.]

“What we’ve seen from Mr. Pallister … he has ignored or at least been very, very slow to deal with the meth crisis.”

Healthcare offers the biggest contrast in the leaders’ style and approach.  Kinew’s arguments go against the advice of experts who have said Winnipeg has too many emergency rooms.

Dr. David Peachey concluded in his report on Winnipeg healthcare that fewer, better-staffed emergency rooms would ultimately improve care.

Kinew said his plan, which includes upgrades in technology to help automate systems, would ultimately lead to better care and more money on the front lines.

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