With the latest public health orders coming into effect in Manitoba this past weekend, the provincial requirement to be masked in indoor public places ended.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister was in Portage la Prairie Monday afternoon for an infrastructure funding announcement and commented on the lax restrictions.

"We were slow (in loosening restrictions) compared to many. I think everybody knows that Alberta opened up quick for the Stampede," he says. "I think the caution we showed is reasonable and understandable. This delta variant isn't fooling around, it's a sneaky adversary, and we've got to be careful... I would remind people, remember that things like masks is no longer an order, but it's still a strongly worded recommendation, which I think many of us need to remember and follow as we move forward."

Pallister says the discourse surrounding herd immunity has shifted significantly over the course of the vaccine rollout, and because of the number of variants that have emerged, the need for vaccination is even more vital.

"We're leading the country in getting people vaccinated, and that's awesome, and we need to do even more... These variants of concern are swift, and the science that's emerging on them says they can still be transferred in situations we didn't think was relevant months ago," he notes. "We have to be very, very careful. We have to protect one another. We have to protect our healthcare system, but certainly, it was good to see the numbers come out from StatsCan showing Manitoba leading the way on economic growth, and that's something we'd like to see continue."

The Premier also referenced information recently published by the MacDonald Laurier Institute that ranks Manitoba as the top province outside of Atlantic Canada in terms of pandemic response. The data compares the performance of Canada's provinces in protecting the health and prosperity of their citizens during the pandemic. Provinces with higher scores have felt more misery, including from the spread of sickness and death from the disease itself, slow or poor responses by the government, economic decline, increased public debt, and lost jobs.

"So that's pretty good acknowledgement that we're doing, not everything right, you know, but we're doing our best and without a lot of lessons... It's a balancing act, and it's not an easy thing. There's no precedent in our lifetime," says Pallister. "You could say the Spanish Flu, over 100 years ago, might be the closest similar challenge, but with respect to our government, we've done our very, very best in partnership with other governments, as well, to face these challenges."


Written by Brian Oliver