THE NDP used the backdrop of a meeting room at the stately Fort Garry Hotel to say they're the only political party that can be trusted on health care and the only ones experienced enough to negotiate a deal with Ottawa on the soon-to-expire national health accord.

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This article was published 27/9/2011 (3671 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press
Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen stopped in the Interlake riding to promise new beds for personal care homes.

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen stopped in the Interlake riding to promise new beds for personal care homes.

THE NDP used the backdrop of a meeting room at the stately Fort Garry Hotel to say they're the only political party that can be trusted on health care and the only ones experienced enough to negotiate a deal with Ottawa on the soon-to-expire national health accord.

Premier Greg Selinger said if the NDP is re-elected on Tuesday, the party will fight to get a new 10-year deal with Ottawa to help pay for ever-increasing costs in Manitoba's health-care system. The current health accord, which sets out $30-billion in annual health transfers from Ottawa to the provinces and territories, expires in 2014.

Flanked by Health Minister Theresa Oswald and former health minister Dave Chomiak, Canada's and Manitoba's flags behind them, Selinger said the NDP is the only party that can get a deal that's good for the province and its people.

He also said the province cannot risk electing Hugh McFadyen's Progressive Conservatives when so much is at stake. Oswald and Chomiak did not speak, and the NDP used the occasion to film new footage for a possible TV ad.

"The health accord negotiations that take place over the next four years will shape health care in Manitoba for the next 10 years or even longer," Selinger said. "We need a representative in those negotiations who will stand for all Manitoba families."

"This may sound amazing, but it is not surprising Mr. McFadyen's entire career has been about health-care cuts."

Selinger also said health care is the top priority of Manitobans, ahead of the economy, education and crime, and the one issue the NDP believes can carry them into their fourth term in office when Manitobans vote on Oct. 4.

He accused the Tories of wanting to cap health-care spending at the rate of economic growth, a position that would strip hundreds of millions of dollars from the system.

"That's not an opening position that will speak well for Manitoba," Selinger said.

McFadyen said his party made the statement in 2008 before the recession hit and now his party's position has changed.

"Our commitment is to fund health care to the extent of what the need is, and it's clear that the need is in excess of economic growth," he said.

McFadyen also chastised Selinger for souring relationships with the federal government, in particular the NDP's opposition to Ottawa's ending of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly over wheat and barley sales on the Prairies.

"He's also openly supported the federal NDP and he has a close relationship with the federal NDP. Those are circumstances that don't lend themselves to productive discussions with the federal government."

Selinger also said a re-elected NDP government would call on the Harper government to provide health-care transfers with stable increases in each of the 10 years. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government would maintain six per cent annual increases in health transfers for at least two years after the 2014 funding arrangement expires.

Selinger added Manitoba would also press for improved health-care services for First Nations and a national seniors strategy to deal with the pressures an aging population put on the health-care system.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

$7.5M for 30 more beds at personal care homes

ERIKSDALE -- Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen said Tuesday a PC government would create 30 new personal-care-home beds in the Interlake.

Standing outside a hospital in this northern Interlake town, McFadyen pledged to spend $7.5 million on Interlake care-home spots if the Tories win power on Oct. 4.

McFadyen claimed the governing New Democrats have failed to prepare for Manitoba's aging population.

NDP incumbent Tom Nevakshonoff has represented the riding for 12 years, but it's in play this year because the largely rural riding is among the most flood-affected in Manitoba.

Tory Steve Lupky is attempting to unseat Nevakshonoff, who came under fire this year for suggesting Manitoba flood victims are better off than natural disaster victims elsewhere.

NDP Leader Greg Selinger campaigned in the riding on Monday and promised a mobile clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner to go into First Nations communities.

The riding is infamous for being the site of a failed Tory attempt to split the vote in 1995 -- a scandal that helped Gary Filmon's government go down to defeat in 1999.

 

-- Bartley Kives