‘The cost of living is pretty wild’: Manitoba 2023 election swing riding profile: St. Vital

By Graham Sceviour

The Bishop Grandin Greenway runs along next to Abinojii Mikanah on the south edge of the St. Vital riding.

A top priority for voters in the South Winnipeg riding of St. Vital is healthcare.

The desire for change to the healthcare system is part of why orange signs advertising the local NDP candidate, whose party is focusing heavily on the topic, seem widespread in the riding.

Often, the party that wins St. Vital also wins the election overall.

The riding is relatively affluent and visually pleasant, with numerous parks and greenspaces with ponds and well-kept walking and cycling trails. It runs from Abinojii Mikanah (formerly known as Bishop Grandin Boulevard), right next to St. Vital Centre mall, as far north as the Old St. Vital area. Two rivers, the Red and Seine, are the riding’s west and east boundaries, respectively. There are large parks in and near the riding that run alongside both rivers.

St. Vital facts:

• Fifteen per cent of the riding works in the health care and social assistance fields.

• Out of the roughly 22,700 people who live in the riding, just over 5,000 own a home and about 500 more are renters.

• About half of the households in the riding are home to one family only and with no other inhabitants.

• Fewer than 1,000 of the households in the riding are home to single parents.

• The median household income in St. Vital is $65,500

• Only 2.4 per cent of the people in St. Vital are of visible minorities.

• The largest-growing immigrant population is South Asian (3.3 per cent growth in the five years before 2021).

• Almost a third of the riding has a post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree.

The median cost for housing per month is $1,150 for owners and eighty dollars fewer for renters.

• About 60 per cent of the population aged 15 and above is part of the work force.

• Men make up slightly more than half of the work force, with 530 more working men than women out of a workforce of over 11,700.

Source: Elections Manitoba

The candidates:

Saima Aziz (Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba). Last year she ran to become a Pembina Trails School Division Ward 3 Trustee and was not elected. She hasn’t previously run for MLA.

Work history: Teaching, accounting, and project management. She’s also served as a school trustee for the School District of Mystery Lake.

Slogan: ‘Fighting for St. Vital’

Source: Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba

Peter Bastians (Manitoba Liberal Party). He hasn’t previously run for MLA.

Work history: Owner of Taste of Sri Lanka Restaurant and Lounge

Source: Manitoba Liberal Party

Jamie Moses (New Democratic Party — incumbent). 

Moses won the 2019 election by 881 votes.

Currently the Opposition critic for Advanced Education and Training

Work history: finance sector

Source: New Democratic Caucus of Manitoba

Last election’s results (2019):

  1. Jamie Moses. NDP. 4,092 votes (44.18 per cent)
  2. Colleen Mayer. PC. 3,211 votes (34.67 per cent)
  3. Jeffrey Anderson. NDP. 1,274 votes (13.76 per cent)

Voter Viewpoints:

Health care is the election priority for Judith Jaworski, whose husband was in a personal care home after having a stroke. 

“There were lots of times that I was in one dining room and there was a lady in another dining room with her husband and she (was serving food) and I was cutting up food because they didn’t have enough staff to do all that stuff. And some of those (other patients) didn’t even have family. “

Russell Davidson is a 57-year-old lawyer who raised two kids in St. Vital, where he’s lived for 25 years. He wants the next government to increase education funding.

“I’ve watched successive governments, predominantly conservative governments, cut the money that goes to education. Conservative thinking is always ‘save money today, keep taxes low today, cut everybody a cheque today.’ But I don’t want to be bribed with my own money. I want my tax money to be used for schools, for healthcare, for infrastructure, for job creation.”

Paulette Perrault, a retired accountant who’s lived in St. Vital for 55 years, hopes the next government can shorten the time it takes to receive diagnoses.

“My best friend died a couple years ago from cancer. Part of the problem was the amount of time it took to get her tests done. By time she could see a specialist, it just kept getting worse and worse and eventually by time everything was said and done it was too late to help her. Had our system been a little better she could’ve gone in right away instead of having to wait months and months.”

Melanie Cairns, 23, moved to St. Vital this year and is a nurse at Concordia Hospital who wants the state of healthcare improved.

“I really want someone who understands (healthcare) and can try to work towards reforming it and improving it. I feel kind of hopeless for people not getting the care they need because we’re under-staffed or not enough beds or just over capacity for patients.”

Brandon Hopkin, 24, works in St. Vital in logistics for CBI Health. He hopes the government can lower the cost of buying a house in Manitoba.

“I feel like there’s not enough support for people who aren’t homeless but who can’t afford houses. The cost of living is pretty wild.”

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