Pallister should be paying skilled workers, students say

By Ashton Buss

The provincial government is asking Manitobans to volunteer through Help Next Door MB./ASHTON BUSS

Some RRC students want to volunteer to help Manitoba curb the spread of COVID-19. Others feel these positions should be paid if they are going to expose themselves to the risk.

Stephanie Shaver said she debated becoming a paramedic before starting the Digital Media Design program at RRC, a decision she said she’s now regretting. 

“I want to help so bad. I feel helpless seeing everyone walk around lately. I would volunteer in a heartbeat to the extent that I would quit school to volunteer,” said Shaver.

Premier Brian Pallister announced on Nov. 3 the provincial government is looking for volunteers to help with temporary “surge needs.” 

Manitobans can sign up through the Help Next Door MB website and mobile app. Applicants will be screened with a criminal record check when they create a profile and select which region of the province they’d like to assist in. 

Shaver said she doesn’t know anyone who would want to volunteer besides herself. 

Shaver also said she these positions should be paid so that volunteers aren’t working for free to fix Pallister’s mistakes.

More than 7,000 volunteers signed up last spring when the provincial government launched the website. Volunteers helped people get groceries, shovel snow, or complete other tasks during the first wave of the pandemic. 

The Canadian Red Cross, which also accepts volunteers, is assisting with the rising COVID-19 cases in personal care homes.

Pallister should be hiring workers instead of putting unskilled volunteers to help in high-risk COVID-19 areas like health facilities and testing sites, said Syrah Bailey, another student in the Digital Media Design program at RRC.

“I know he’s trying to do his best, but people also need to be held accountable as there are many who aren’t cooperating or abiding by the rules either,” said Bailey.

Bailey said part-time students or those with family affected by the virus might be more inclined to help.

People looking to volunteer can visit Help Next Door MB’s website.