An All Candidates Debate, hosted by the Altona and District Chamber of Commerce, was held in Altona Wednesday evening. The forum provided the five candidates in Borderland constituency with the opportunity to outline their party's policies on a variety of issues including immigration, business, agriculture, health care and taxes.
Represented at the forum table were Liz Cronk for the New Democratic Party of Manitoba, Independent and incumbent MLA Cliff Graydon, Loren Braul for the Liberal Party of Manitoba, Ken Henry for the Green Party of Manitoba and Josh Guenter for the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.
Health care generated the most discussion between all the topics. As a result, the candidates' responses are outlined below, as well as their opening statements in the order they spoke at the debate.
For a recording of the live stream of the event as recorded and presented by the Chamber, click here.
Opening Statement: Liz Cronk
Cronk said she thinks the Pallister government's recent health care cuts have greatly impacted staff, ultimately jeopardizing the quality of service.
"There's been so much mandated overtime at St. Boniface Hospital; there have been hundreds of thousands of dollars spent. When nurses go to work in the morning at 7:30, they don't know if they're going to be going home at four or at midnight because they're mandated. There aren't nurses to come in and relieve you for the next shift," Cronk said.
Opening Statement: Cliff Graydon
Graydon said he is concerned about hospital wait times and the closure of rural emergency rooms.
"And then (patients) go to the hospital where the ER is supposed to be open, and they get redirected because the construction hasn't been done there," he said. "And unfortunately then for the people that are in the system -- the nurses and doctors -- there's a lot of anxiety ... there has to be proper planning (and) there is the opportunity to do it."
Opening Statement: Loren Braul
Braul said day programs at care homes have been harmed due to the Pallister government's health care cuts.
"These kinds of really low-cost programs actually have a huge return on investment in maintaining the quality of life for people in that situation. It allows them to preserve a huge level of dignity," Braul said. "We need to make sure that our system is funded well enough to do that, and a cut-based model is only caring about the input without regard to what's going to happen on the other side."
Opening Statement: Ken Henry
Henry said many Borderland constituents have expressed their concern about access to facilities across rural communities.
"It's not like we're in Winnipeg here where there's some relatively close access to the health care system. So I've heard a lot of them talk about the need to make sure that we're okay in this area, and that travel is okay in this area to make it to different health care facilities."
Opening Statement: Josh Guenter
Guenter defended his party's system overhaul that was implemented after the PCs formed government in 2016, noting Manitoba was spending the second-highest amount per capita on health care in Canada while logging the longest wait times.
"As a result of what we've done there's actually $414 million more in the system today than there was in 2016, it's record levels," he said. "We've actually seen a 14 percent reduction in wait times -- the only province in Canada to see a reduction in wait times, all the rest are getting longer."
Voting will take place September 10th.