thumb-2020-12-07 This article is more than 11 months old

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister Criticizes Plan To Make COVID-19 Vaccine Available to Vulnerable Indigenous Communities

Manitoba’s premier turns to racist dog whistle politics as his approval ratings nosedive over his mishandling of the pandemic

With his approval ratings crashing to new lows, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is turning to racist dog whistle politics aimed at stirring up resentment and dividing his province over the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

During a news conference Thursday,  Pallister criticized the federal government’s plan to give vulnerable populations priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, claiming it is “short-changing” Manitobans in favour of “Indigenous folks.”

Last month, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization released its plan for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, prioritizing healthcare workers, residents and workers at long-term care homes, Canadians over 70-years-old as well as vulnerable Indigenous communities.

Pallister suggested that plan “puts Manitobans at the back of the line.”

“They are also telling us that they are going to hold back the portion of our vaccines for Manitoba that they would then allocate to Indigenous and First Nations communities,” Pallister said. “Manitobans who do not live in northern Indigenous communities would be the least likely to get a vaccine in the country.”

While Pallister acknowledged the federal government has “obligations” to protect Indigenous communities, he asserted that “they need to do this, but not punish everyone else who lives in the same jurisdictions as Indigenous folks by short-changing them on their share of vaccines.”


Although Pallister claimed Manitoba’s First Nations leaders share similar concerns, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Arlen Dumas said he found Pallister’s comments “disrespectful” and “unnecessary.”

“It’s unfortunate that the premier chooses to make this an issue that could potentially cause division and be used as a political football, jurisdictional football, when it doesn’t need to be,” Dumas told CBC News.

NACI’s plan explains that “Indigenous communities have been disproportionately impacted by past pandemics” and remote communities “may not have ready access to sufficient health care infrastructure.”

It notes that the “risk for severe outcomes, including death, and societal disruption is proportionally greater than in other communities.”

Pallister’s statements Thursday echoed similar comments at a press conference earlier in the week in which he predicted non-Indigenous people living in southern Manitoba could “rush” to northern Indigenous community in search of vaccines.

“This is lifeboat time,” Pallister said. “We know that we can’t have everybody on the limited number of lifeboats that are going to appear, as vaccines come in limited numbers.”

On Friday, official opposition leader Wab Kinew accused Pallister of resorting to “fear mongering” to deflect attention from his own leadership.

“Why is he coming out twice in one week to try and divide people and do this fear mongering about indigenous people and the vaccines? I think it’s simple: It’s to hide the fact that he doesn’t have a plan for vaccination in Manitoba.”

“Everybody in Manitoba who want a vaccine is going to be able to get it,” Kinew said. “That should be the message that he comes out to Manitobans with on a day-to-day level.”


Help us protect Canadians by holding the powerful accountable.

Journalism is an important public service. That’s why PressProgress is prioritizing stories aimed at keeping Canadians safe and holding the powerful accountable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Please consider supporting our award-winning non-profit news organization so we can keep making a positive impact for Canadians.


Support Our Journalism
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

thumb-2021-011-016 News

Doug Ford Just Released His Fall Economic Update. He Quietly Cut Half A Billion Dollars From Ontario Schools.

Related Stories


Conservative Candidate Says He Would Take Action Against ‘Anti-Conservative’ Bias Among Elementary School Students

View the post

Conservative Candidate Pins Chances of Winning On Parallels Between London, Ontario And Viktor Orbán’s Hungary

View the post

Ontario PC MPP Floats Idea of Replacing Teachers With Pre-Recorded Videos To Cut Education Costs

View the post


Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

The battle of the PACs in Calgary’s municipal election

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

27 Different Candidates are Vying to be Calgary’s Mayor. Here Are the Biggest Issues at Stake.

View the post
Work & rights

Shanice Regis-Wilkins

How Labour Activists Pushed For Policies That Protect Workers and the Environment This Election

View the post