The Green Party candidate for Portage la Prairie MLA is spreading the word about her platform for your vote. Arishya Aggarwal outlines the many challenges for Portagers that she's willing to help resolve.
"Let's look at crime for example," says Aggarwal. "Let's look at access to healthcare and basic wait lists. We can even look at advocacy for our seniors, lack of support for our school divisions, and lack of support for our healthcare workers. There's a lot of things to deal with going on in our community, and a lot of challenges we're facing. There's drug use, high cost of living, and our youth leaving Portage."
She notes the catch-and-release system in the police force requires a complete overhaul for a stronger justice system.
"I plan to see the strengthening of our law enforcement," notes Aggarwal. "This means making sure that our RCMP officers have the resources and the manpower they need to effectively catch these criminals and to effectively make sure that we're improving our intelligence and coordination, when it comes to targeting known criminal hotspots in Portage -- things like judicial accountability. We really need to make sure that our judges are looking at public safety before releasing sentences and bails for potential criminals that are known to be repeat offenders."
Aggarwal says community engagement is necessary, too. Residents, business owners, community organizations, and everyone who is affected by crime must be consulted about how to improve our progress in affecting crime and the shortage, as well as legislative reforms.
"I want to collaborate with different legal experts to make sure that we're addressing the Criminal Code, finding out what's not working in these laws, and improving it when we get the chance."
With the new hospital in the works in Portage, she explains there's not a single MRI machine planned to be implemented.
"What that means is that Portage seniors and people who need care are still going to have to drive one hour to Winnipeg, fight to find parking, and deal with all the stress that comes with the long drive just to get a basic MRI scan," notes Aggarwal. "Then to get put on a waitlist for, what -- three to six months -- before we can get a basic MRI scan? We don't have things like a dementia clinic -- a single dementia clinic. We don't have a neurology department. We don't have an orthopedic clinic. We don't have any of these top-notch facilities."
She adds school divisions are operating on a very low budget, struggling with underfunding, with staffing, and with things like programs and resources for our children.
"At the end of the day, our students, our children, are the future of our country, and of our city," says Aggarwal. "Just seeing the amount of silence that surrounds this issue is resounding to me. As an MLA, I don't control budget allocations, but what I can do is use my voice to advocate for and present my research business case on why we need more funding for our schools and for our children."
She adds her biggest priority is giving power back to the people by ensuring Portage is involved in the decisions that the provincial government proposes. She refers to the Senior Strategy.
"This was recently presented in February 2023," continues Aggarwal. "We see that there were all sorts of cities that were collaborating on this plan. We'll see Winnipeg, Thompson, Brandon, Carberry, and Charleswood. All of these cities are listed, yet Portage la Prairie was not on this list. We can look at another example of building capacity and promoting sustainability in Manitoba's nonprofit sector strategy. Again, you can see that all consultations are held in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson. Yet again, Portage is not on this list."
Aggarwal adds Portage is currently looked upon as a rural city that doesn't have access to any resources. She says this forces us to drive to Winnipeg, as well as not get in on any of the plans that affect us.
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