Manitoba voters got to see the four main parties in the hot seat on Monday — answering questions about one of the most important election issues facing the province: health care.
Participating in CBC Manitoba's televised debate were:
- James Beddome, Green Party candidate and leader
- Inez Vystrcil-Spence, Manitoba Liberal candidate (unconfirmed)
- Myrna Driedger, Progressive Conservative candidate and opposition health critic
- Sharon Blady, NDP candidate and health minister
As part of Monday night's debate, CBC's Chris Glover asked each candidate a question about their party's health care platform. After the debate, all except Myrna Driedger also took part in an online chat about the topic.
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Glover started with Inez Vystrcil-Spence an unconfirmed candidate with the Manitoba Liberals. He asked Vystrcil-Spence why the Manitoba Liberals are promising to rebate ambulance fees for low-income seniors but not other low-income Manitobans.
"I haven't had a chance to review the platform in detail yet because I'm still working on making my candidacy official; however, I'm thinking that some of the policies that are going to unfold in health under a Liberal government will have to be reflective of unique populations," Vystrcil-Spence said.
"In the case of our seniors, we have to acknowledge that they're facing challenges of income. So some of them are part of the working poor so we just have to do what we can to try to address the needs of our most vulnerable."
The conversation turned to the Green Leader James Beddome. Glover asked him what the Greens would do to shorten the length of time Manitobans must wait to get into personal care homes.
He said under a Green government, more emphasis would be put on figuring out ways to enable people to stay in their homes longer.
"It improves the quality of life and I think it also will lower costs for the health-care system," said Beddome.
Additionally, he said, the province needs to invest more in personal care homes because as the population ages, the need will only increase.
Myrna Driedger, Progressive Conservative candidate and opposition critic for health, faced the next question. Glover asked her how a PC government would shorten wait times for care in emergency rooms.
"Manitoba, particularly in Winnipeg, has seen the longest ER waits in Canada for three years in a row," Driedger replied.
"We are going to be setting up a very, very dedicated, committed wait time task force that is going to be targeted—listening to front-line workers. We think they haven't been talked to enough."
Lastly, Glover asked NDP candidate and Health Minister Sharon Blady what her government is doing to shorten wait times for cancer treatment, specifically prostate cancer radiation which has seen wait times go up recently, according to the Wait Time Alliance.
"What would a re-elected NDP government do to correct a trend that's going from bad to worse?" Glover asked.
Earlier this year the NDP announced the expansion of Cancer Care, Blady said.
"In terms of wait times, we know we have the best wait times in a variety of areas and that cancer patient journey, getting people from suspicion to treatment in 60 days, we've made huge progress there," Blady said.
All this week, CBC Manitoba is hosting a nightly debate on the election issues facing voters. Chris Glover will be joined by representatives of the political parties on CBC Television and online from 6:15 to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday. Join the live chat and engage with the parties and other voters by visiting cbc.ca/manitoba.
This debate is in addition to, and does not replace, the leaders' debate that will be broadcast live on CBC Television on April 12.