Pallister won’t commit to doing what health-tax survey says – Manitoba

Premier Brian Pallister won’t commit to following the direction of Manitobans who respond to a government survey that aims to gauge the public’s appetite for a proposed health-care premium.

Pallister defended his government’s use of the online survey — and the proposed tax — at a press conference Thursday amid criticism from both the left and the right over the proposed premium on health-care.

While the online survey asks respondents to decide between three options — current health care services with a lower premium, enhanced health care with a higher premium, or reduced health care with no premium — Pallister denied the survey really just asks Manitobans to decide between the tax or cuts to the province’s health-care services.

“It’s designed to elicit a response and have participants. It is not designed to lead the witness,” he said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for people to participate.”

The premier said a comments section included at the bottom of the survey would give respondents a chance to voice support for options other than cuts to the system or a new tax, and told reporters he will personally review the responses recorded in the comment field. 

“I look forward to reading them, I read all 10,000 plus submissions last year to that fiscal committee,” he said. “I’m very interested — I like to hear from Manitobans.”

Health-care workers say ‘put put patients first’2:43

But when asked whether or not his government would reduce health care services if the majority of respondents reject the idea of either a lower or higher premium, Pallister was adamant cuts to Manitoba’s health-care system are not on the table.

That’s what a conversation is about
– Premier Brian Pallister

That led reporters in the room to question why the government would bother with the survey in the first place, if the views of the majority wouldn’t necessarily be followed once results are tallied.

Pallister said the survey provides a space for Manitobans to have a say about policy, but wouldn’t commit to following the results.

“We’ll decide when we look at the responses, and we’ll make our policies,” he said. “That’s what a conversation is about.”

Unexpected announcement made Wednesday

The proposed plan to charge a premium on health-care services in Manitoba was first announced by Pallister Wednesday.

At the unexpected announcement Pallister said health-care premiums could help…

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