The Manitoba NDP claims that since the Progressive Conservatives came into power in 2016, they have underspent on health care by over $600 million.
At a press conference in Windsor Park, Health Minister Audrey Gordon’s constituency, NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara said the Tories are on track to leave $1 billion in funding for health care on the table.
“Heather Stefanson, Audrey Gordon and this PC government broke our health-care system. They aren’t the ones who are going to be able to fix it,” they said.
NDP spokesperson Mark Rosner said an analysis of provincial budgets and actuals at the end of each fiscal year found $698 million left unspent by the Tory government. Using those figures, the New Democrats project that figure will balloon to $911 million by next year.
Asagwara, MLA for Union Station, said despite announcing millions of dollars in health-care spending in the lead-up to the election, the PCs should not be trusted.
“They have a pattern of making announcements and not following through on their own commitments,” they said.
“The PCs can only be trusted to one thing and that is break their promises to Manitobans and fail on health care.”
The New Democrats have promised new spending on health care, including expanding the University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne campus to make room for more medical trainees and proposed universal contraception.
PC MLA Cliff Cullen said factors such as project delays or plans coming in under budget can affect government spending.
“It’s no surprise that the NDP lacks a basic understanding of the budgeting process,” Cullen said in an email in response to the NDP accusations.
“It’s astounding for the NDP to come out with this today when they voted against Budget 2023 and the largest-ever healthcare increase in Manitoba history.”
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Cullen wrote the Tory government is “on the path to healing” the health-care system by expanding multiple hospitals, including writing a large cheque for Health Sciences Centre.
On Aug. 2, the province announced it would be spending $1.5 billion to rebuild the adult bed towers at HSC over the next six years. The new space will see 240 new private rooms and expanded inpatient areas.
Asagwara said an NDP government would take a “different approach” to health care when asked if the NDP would promise the same cash for an HSC overhaul.
— with files from Talha Hashmani
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