President's Message - November 4, 2020

November 4, 2020

The second wave of COVID is surging through Manitoba. Recently, the province announced that they are moving the Winnipeg area to "code red" and the rest of rural Manitoba into "code orange". We believe that this could have been avoidable.

The Government of Manitoba was in a great position to be leaders in Canada and mitigate the effects of this virus on Manitobans. Instead, Premier Pallister decided to focus on the deficit and numbers rather than the needs and well-being of Manitobans. Though your Métis Government is upset by this short-minded approach, we are not surprised.

Doctors warned since the initial outbreak that a second wave was coming in the fall and that it would be worse than the first.

The Manitoba Government could have hired additional nurses, contact tracers, and other necessary supports throughout the summer to prepare for this second wave. We enjoyed relatively low cases all summer while other provinces continued to be decimated by this virus. Manitoba should have used this time to prepare for the expected second wave.

While Pallister was preoccupied with counting dollars and cents - putting the budget ahead of his citizens - we now find ourselves in the midst of an economic crisis. The Manitoba Government sleepwalked into a massive crisis that it is not prepared to handle. As of writing this, there have been 91 reported COVID-related deaths in Manitoba. Beyond lives, Manitobans are losing their homes, investments, jobs, and businesses.

Perhaps if the focus would have been on prevention and the health of Manitobans and they had balanced their response, the economy might not have slid out of control.

Other Premiers across Canada recognized the needs and were willing to dig into their piggy banks to find the required funds to adequately respond to this crisis. Pallister, however, chose to try and take credit for the programs put in place because of Prime Minister Trudeau.

Your Métis Government warned Pallister of this since March.

From the programs we are developing to the supports we are providing, the province could have learned from the leadership and dedication of your Métis Government.

To address the red and orange code announcements, we announced this Monday that $5.5 million dollars in funding is now available for businesses and removed the red tape to receive it. All that we require is evidence they are an established business and that they have a plan in place to keep their doors open after these new restrictions pass by.

We recognize that businesses are the backbone of our province, but we also recognize that there are people behind those businesses that need support.

We have shown a willingness to work together with our Regions, Locals, Citizens, Affiliates, and other partners to help respond to this never-before-seen threat.

Similar to how he neglected the advice of the Métis, he is now neglecting all Manitobans. And even though Manitobans are not receiving support from their elected provincial government, they are now being asked to volunteer in the response efforts and sacrifice their personal health as well as the health of their loved ones and community. For Pallister, saving money by putting the health and safety of volunteers in danger is an easier decision than investing in hiring healthcare professionals during the summer.

As a proud Manitoban, I am embarrassed of the response efforts of our provincial government. They gladly come to reach into your pockets and take your hard-earned money when it is time to pay taxes, but when Manitobans are in need, they are not willing to circle back and offer a hand in support of your money.

In the first wave, your Métis Government did exceptionally well at reaching out and helping our Métis Citizens exit COVID stronger than we entered. Much of our efforts were focused on keeping vulnerable Citizens at home by delivering nearly 6,000 hampers to our Elders, shut-ins, and chronically ill Citizens.

Our youth showed exceptional leadership through the first wave. But we expected nothing less. We are proud of their leadership and commitment. By staying home, they not only kept themselves healthy, but they also kept the virus out of their households and community.

I am also proud of the initiative of our Minister of Provincial Education, Joan Ledoux. Recently, they announced that they will be offering additional financial support to Métis students through the second wave.

Though we already offer our post-secondary education students $5,000 a year to help limit their debt-load, we recognize that schooling is much more expensive than that. Many take on part-time jobs to pay for supplies, rent, and other necessities. COVID has limited their ability to find jobs, and some jobs that are now available may put them at risk of contracting COVID.

We hope that this additional support will help them stay safe in isolation and reduce stress during code red.

The MMF offers a wide variety of support that will help many Citizens. Please visit our website, mmf.mb.ca, to see the full listing of our offered supports. If you need support accessing this listing, please do not hesitate to contact our home office at 204-586-8474. If you have suggestions for a new program, or perhaps you know of a gap in our response strategy, please reach out to your Regional Office and make a recommendation.

Although COVID may slow us down, we are continuing forward and undertaking many large economic development ventures that require substantial purchases of a wide variety of goods and services.

Currently, we are still building homes, childcare centres, local government offices, and many other projects in all corners of Manitoba. If you or someone you know are a Métis contractor, please contact MMF Housing to sign up. In fact, all businesses should register with our Métis Business directory so that your Métis Government can expand the number of Métis businesses we can utilize as a Government when undertaking projects.

If you or someone you know has a business that has been negatively impacted economically by the pandemic, please call 1-800-387-6004 or visit medf.ca to see if you are eligible for this new support.

We are encouraging everyone to follow pandemic protocols. This means limiting your trips to places such as the grocery store, washing your hands often, wearing a mask when leaving the house, and adhering to social distancing protocols.

I want to commend Prime Minister Trudeau for his swift and action-based response. Many leaders may talk the talk, but Prime Minister Trudeau follows through on commitments, such as his commitment to support the Métis Nation politically and economically.

My prayers go out to all that are being affected by this second wave of COVID in Manitoba. Your Métis Government recently restarted the hamper program for our Elders and vulnerable Citizens to ensure that they do not have to leave their homes to receive their essential goods. Please, help your loved ones who are vulnerable to this virus by offering to go shopping for them or helping them get groceries delivered to their doorstep.

Together, we made it through the first wave, and rest assured if we all make this sacrifice and stay home, we will emerge from the second wave stronger than ever. Your Métis Government will not let you down. We will always have your back.

Meeqwetch,

 


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