Right in the centre - Random thoughts


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

•Last week’s column on Canada Post caused a fair bit of reaction, all confirming what I said. Canada Post has a very big top-down problem. They are out of touch with their local postal workers and local management. Warehouses, and even semi-trailers, get backed up with parcels, even the First Class mail is being delayed for days.

Parcels can take weeks by way of Canada Post, all the while couriers can move stuff in two to three days across the whole country. Canada Post can’t even move parcels around a region in two to three days.

The upshot for the newspaper business is that papers are Third Class mail and when there is a backlog, they get left to the back of the line. We are very thankful that our local post offices do the very best they can to get all the mail out, including our papers. We are in the process of making some adjustments and at considerable cost to get more of our papers out earlier.

•As Manitoba grinds through yet another extension of the C-19 lockdown, speculation is high as to what might get opened up next. Will it be more businesses? Will it be gymnasiums and churches? Will it be youth sports or junior hockey?

Many leagues have cancelled their season so that, for the most part, male and female minor hockey league play has been cancelled. Most senior hockey leagues have been cancelled. Time is indeed running out to have any kind of meaningful hockey league play. Most arenas have set deadlines as to when they will shut down their ice plants and if they do, they won’t likely be re-opening for this season.

•As long as some businesses can’t open and neither can churches, as long as funerals are limited to 10 people, it’s unlikely any major crowd event will be allowed to open up. If the idea is to slow the spread, then logic would say that keeping crowd numbers down makes sense.

There is one problem, shopping malls have huge crowds and they can do so legally. It’s really hard to believe that a hockey game spreads COVID-19, but a huge crowd at a big store doesn’t. The public’s patience is wearing very thin with this concept.

•I still think that the provincial government has done a pretty good job, overall. That said, a lot more consultation should have taken place with opposition parties, MLAs, regular citizens and health care professionals.

If I am wrong in that observation about consultation and if, in fact, everything was done that could be done, then we certainly haven’t been told. We know from the Long Term Care Association of Manitoba that care homes have been underfunded for 15 years or more. We know that C-19 has hit our elderly harder than any other segment of society. Knowing that, a lot more could have and should have been done to help care homes and the residents.

•That leads to another problem. Generally speaking government communications are really, really badly done. To use a simple example, we wanted to ask local wildlife people about the moose that was wandering around Neepawa. The local staff couldn’t talk to us or were afraid to do so. That’s ridiculous, but even more ridiculous, we had to phone somebody with government communications in Winnipeg and after two or three days, they got back with no answers whatsoever about whether the moose was being moved out of town. Their brilliant response was to tell us to stay two bus lengths away from the moose.

Most government communications are about as meaningless. It shouldn’t be only the premier and health staff who can speak. Why can’t the head of the local hospital tell us what’s happening or the local care home manager? The government has dozens of communications people, almost all in Winnipeg, and they may not have knowledge of what’s happening on the other side of the city, let alone the other side of the province. The Regional Health Authorities are pretty good at getting answers out, but it is a bit convoluted. Other departments are almost impossible to get answers out of. Cabinet ministers are scared silly to speak, unless their remarks have been pre-approved. More openness would be really helpful.