A woman from Ste. Anne says she is running in next month's provincial election in order to help fill the gaps that exist today in Manitoba.
Bianca Siem, who grew up in rural Manitoba is the NDP candidate for La Verendrye. Siem says the southeast is her home and she wants to represent the people that have supported her for her entire life.
"One of the best things about living out here is we all support each other in the community and ensure that we take time to fill in the gaps that are needed," says Siem. "And I see a gap right now with this election and I'm hoping that others acknowledge that and realize that their voice matters."
Siem is a student at University of Manitoba, currently studying politics. She says politics never really interested her until she realized that as Manitobans we have the option to voice our concerns and to make change in our community.
"I've always been a volunteer in our community, trying to make change and support each other that way," she says. "We have a chance right now to do that and I'm really excited to be here."
Siem says this is her first time running as an MLA. However, as a student, she has served on student councils and associations. Siem says she has experience in leadership and is hoping to continue learning and bringing her experience to the world.
According to Siem, a big focus for the NDP in this election is to fix the health care system and to make smart investments that will help the average family with affordability, while keeping key services running. She notes they have a rural health care plan that will reinstate the rural recruitment physicians fund, which would mean investing for the long term as well as focusing on nurses, lab technicians and paramedics who keep key services running in southeastern Manitoba.
In addition to that, Siem says if elected, the NDP will cut the gas tax, ensure that our hydro is not privatized and make sure that our hydro rates are not going up with inflation.
"So that families can have a little bit more money in their pocket and be able to spend time with each other instead of worrying about what's going to be next on their plate," she adds.
Siem says she is hearing a number of different concerns from voters on the campaign trail. She notes a lot of parents are concerned with the lack of childcare facilities in the area, while seniors are struggling with the shortage of family doctors. Another concern has to do with paramedic services, as Siem says there are more than 200 vacancies in rural Manitoba because paramedics are leaving the province in order to find better jobs that are paying more money.
"We have to ensure that we are having competitive wages for these paramedics to stay and work for us in rural Manitoba," adds Siem.
Meanwhile, a recent high school graduate, Siem says she has seen firsthand how being hungry and not having a lunch at school can impact an individual's ability to be a student, as well as one's mental health and well-being and confidence in the classroom. Siem says an NDP government will make sure that there is a nutrition plan for all 690 schools in Manitoba.
"Which means that there will be meals provided for students who aren't necessarily able to afford it or their families aren't able to provide it and they can focus on learning in the classroom rather than on their empty stomach," she says.
Siem says taking care of the next generation is important in keeping our province running.
Manitobans head to the polls on October 3rd.