Pallister Government imposed provincial wide ban on smoking as part of COVID-19 prevention
Everyone knows the dangers of smoking and second hand smoke is more detriment to non smokers. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many jurisdictions have imposed strict regulations to prevent the spread of the virus.
The coronavirus has infected over ten million and killed over 130,000 people with tens of thousands still on ventilators. Based on the science, smoking weakens the lungs of people and can make them more susceptible to catching the virus.
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas is doing what he is elected to do, which is voice the concerns of the he community he represents. However, the safety of everyone should be paramount.
It is no secret that the Pallister government has had a rocky history with the Indigenous community in Manitoba and it will continue as long as he is premier. The smoking ban is seen by Dumas as implementing systematic racism, where others see it as keeping inline with the provincial law and keeping Indigenous communities safe.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is expressing vehement opposition to the Province of Manitoba overstepping its jurisdiction by using the COVID-‐19 pandemic emergency response measures to apply provincial policy on First Nations through its attempt to ban smoking in casinos and VLT areas on reserves in Manitoba indefinitely.
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said, “It is unacceptable and disheartening that the Pallister government and Province of Manitoba would attempt to use the current COVID-‐19 health crisis to unilaterally attempt to usurp First Nations autonomy under the guise of a public health order. We have consistently made constructive efforts to discuss the jurisdictional conflicts with the Province of Manitoba and offer solutions, however, the Premier continues to refuse our attempts to resolve these issues and appears content to continue these practices of systemic racism.”
On June 11, 2020, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister presented the Province of Manitoba’s “Restoring Safe Services: Manitoba’s Pandemic and Economic Roadmap for Recovery.” Subsequently, on June 18, 2020, the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer issued COVID-‐19 Prevention Order 17, which allowed for the re-‐opening of businesses with VLTs only where smoking is prohibited.
First Nations that allow smoking in their facilities will be prohibited from re-‐opening unless they agree, in writing, to the newly imposed smoking prohibition. If First Nations do not enforce the smoking prohibition, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation has stated that they will immediately terminate those First Nation’s VLT siteholder agreements.