P.C Minister Jon Reyes' Tweet, May Have Lost Him His Cabinet Position
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P.C Minister Jon Reyes’ Tweet, May Have Lost Him His Cabinet Position

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The backlash of Reyes’ weekend “Shovel Gate” Tweet continues

Manitoba P.C. Minister of Economic Development & Jobs and MLA for Waverly, Jon Reyes, is still reeling from the fallout of his Tweet over the weekend. A Tweet many are calling sexist and insensitive to health care workers.

The Manitoba government is already under scrutiny for its handling of the pandemic and, Reyes’ Tweet is considered a slap in the face to healthcare workers. Many of the thousands of the online Tweets at Reyes, lashed back at the rookie Minister for making his wife shovel snow after a 12-hour shift, but it should not be about what is perceived to be stereotypical roles of men and women.

People were more upset that the Minister lacked empathy as he spent the day watching tennis as he Tweeted, while his wife worked a 12-hour shift, came home and shovelled out the driveway after midnight.

Reyes’ Tweet only underscores what healthcare workers have been saying for years under the P.C government and more so during the pandemic; they are overworked and underappreciated. Manitoba’s healthcare system is at its limits, ICU beds are scarce, and the backlog of surgical procedures has surpassed a whopping 152,000.

Furthermore, with the government’s inconsistent message on COVID restrictions, a perceived different set of rules for Southern Health, and lack of a clear plan for the business community, the call for Reyes’ resignation from Cabinet grows louder.

Reyes sat as a backbencher and only became a Minister after the resignation of Premier Pallister. As the Minister responsible for the economy and jobs, Reyes has yet to provide Manitobans with a clear action plan for keeping the economy moving.

Too many Manitoban businesses closed their doors. Others try their very best to stay afloat. The pandemic is destroying small businesses, the backbone of Manitoba. And in a time when entrepreneurs look to their government and Minister for leadership, they feel there is little.

The federal government has invested $2.2 billion to top the Canada Community-Building Fund from 2020 to 2021, along with $20 billion to the provinces through direct transfers like the Safe Restart Agreement. However, many of those funds were slow to make it back to businesses.

When some of those funds were finally made available to Manitoba businesses in the form of The Manitoba Bridge Grant, a small and medium-sized business could apply for a one-time payment of $5,000. However, the government had excluded a large sector of small and home-based businesses from being eligible. It was not long before the business community had to inform the Pallister government of its egregious oversite, which led to a more inclusive funding model.

According to the Manitoba Government’s website, The Business Bridge Grant deadline was July 16, 2021, and nothing has replaced it. The government had also initiated the Dine-in Restaurant Relief Program, developed by The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce in partnership with The Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association. However, the Manitoba government’s website fails to list how many businesses the program helped to this date.

When Premier Stefanson was elected, she indicated she plans to shuffle the Cabinet she inherited under the Pallister regime. Manitobans have already seen an early exit of Ron Schuler, former Infrastructure Minister and replaced with Reg Helwer. Schuler had refused to disclose his vaccination status, which was a requirement of the Premier to serve in Cabinet.

All eyes will be on Premier Stefanson’s first Cabinet shuffle. Manitobans have been unhappy with the handling of the Health portfolio by Audrey Gordon, but in all fairness, this Ministry has been a revolving door over the last year. Healthcare has always been the Achilles heel for the Manitoba P.C government, and as optimistic as Manitobans try to be, the evidence of something else has not yet presented itself.

As for Reyes, many Manitobans, especially those within the business community, feel Premier Stefanson would be sending the wrong message if he remains in Cabinet. The Minister may downplay his Tweet, but the fallout has already begun.

The Premier already has significant challenges with many portfolios and, Reyes’ Tweet becomes part of a long growing list of comments by P.C Ministers that have offended Manitobans. It’s now been over 48 hours since Reyes’s infamous Tweet, resulting in over thirty thousand retweets, quotes, memes and an updated Wikipedia.

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