MMF President David Chartrand Responds to Universal Breakfast Program Issue Are Children and Parents to be Blamed?

March 6, 2020

In November the Manitoba Teachers' Society announced that working with the Province to fund a universal breakfast program was their top priority. The government deferred responding to the Manitoba Teachers' Society. Instead, they issued a statement to the CBC stating that they would wait for the Manitoba Commission for K-12 review and "look forward to looking at their recommendations how we can better set our students up for success."

Now, the government of Manitoba feels that they do not even need to wait for this report to come back and see what's recommended. They have dug their trench and taken their stand.

When MLAs reconvened for the spring session this month, the Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew pleaded with Premier Brian Pallister to introduce a universal breakfast program.

It has been said that "the true measure of a man's character is how he treats people who can do nothing for him and can do nothing to hurt him."

Pallister showed his true character when he placed blame on impoverished parents and stated, "If children are going to school hungry, then parents aren't fulfilling their responsibilities." He goes on to insist that it is not the government's responsibility to feed children.

Pallister says the solution is for parents to go out and get jobs to provide for their children. This solution doesn't work when there is no opportunity to get a job.

The Manitoba Métis Government challenges the Premier's plan. We feel that Pallister's government has no plan to create jobs for the Manitoba Métis Community and if he does: where is it? Our people pay hundreds of millions in taxes, but no new employment opportunities to show for it.

How can you blame parents and those that struggle who don't have the ways or means to feed their child?

One of Pallister's arguments against this program is that reports suggest it is crucial for parents to sit down and eat meals with their children, and a program like this takes away from that time. This argument completely misses the point that these meals often don't even reach the table.

Poverty plays a major role in this issue. Impoverished parents struggle to make ends meet. Many work multiple jobs and long hours but are still unable to provide a nutritious breakfast for their child.

It is widely known that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There is an enormous academic benefit to children who go to school well fed, and not hungry. Instituting a universal breakfast program helps remove one of the many barriers to success impoverished children face and would help break the cycle of poverty for many families. We need the next generation to be the leaders of tomorrow, and that starts with investment in our youth today.

MMF President David Chartrand feels that on the surface, Pallister may not appear to understand the needs of Manitobans. President Chartrand goes on to argue that "the reality is far bleaker than we can imagine; Pallister certainly understands the needs of Manitobans, but simply does not care."

President Chartrand concludes by stating "After being a leader in this province for 22 years, it is discouraging to see the stances that the Pallister takes on behalf of the Progressive Conservatives. These motives are clearly not the views of so many conservatives I know but sit silent."

Your Métis Government will continue to campaign against these out-dated, colonial ideologies that blame the victim and attack those who cannot defend themselves. Pallister using impoverished citizens as scapegoats for his own agenda is wrong.

David Chartrand - President, Manitoba Metis Federation

 


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