Liberals have been fighting for seven years to get mandatory bicycle helmet legislation in Manitoba in order to make sure our children are protected from injury and death as a result of a bike accident. Today, the NDP government brought in Bill 37 to implement such mandatory bike helmet use.
The NDP bill makes bike helmet mandatory for cyclists under 18 years of age. Based on evidence from other jurisdictions, it is increasingly clear that it would have been smart to include adults as well as those under age 18. Protecting the heads of adults is important, just as protecting the heads of children is. We did not apply mandatory seat belt legislation just to those under 18. We should not now just apply mandatory bike helmet legislation just to those under 18.
A brief history of Liberal efforts to get mandatory bike helmet legislation in Manitoba is below:
2005: Manitoba Liberals produce a report "Six Lost Years: Its time for Action" which recommends mandatory bike helmet legislation. See http://www.manitobaliberals.ca/documents/Healthy_Kids_Minority_Report.pdf
May 26, 2005: Liberals introduced Bill 210 to make the use of bicycle helmets mandatory when riding a bike in Manitoba.
June 2, 2005: Liberal Bill 210 went to second reading but was not supported by the NDP.
April 15, 2008: Liberals introduce Bill 225 to make the use of bicycle helmets mandatory when riding a bike in Manitoba.
Sept 16, 2008: Liberal bill 225 goes to second reading. The NDP do not support it, arguing that free helmets and education are sufficient.
June 8 and 9, 2009: Liberals reintroduce mandatory bike helmet legislation. Once again it is rejected by the NDP.
Dec 7, 2009: Liberals reintroduce mandatory bike helmet legislation for first reading for the fourth time.
April 20, 2010: Liberals introduce mandatory bike helmet legislation for second reading. Once again the NDP refuse to support it.
June 15, 2010: Statistics Canada report that only 22% of Manitobansuse bike helmets. The NDPs approach with free helmets and education alone has not had the impact needed. We need mandatory bike helmet legislation.
June 16, 2010: Dr. Patrick McDonald, on CBC, reviews the evidence. He emphasizes that the only thing that really increases helmet use islegislation making it mandatory. He talks of the large financial and social cost to not introducing mandatory bike helmet legislation. He talks of how a child can be perfectly well one moment and the next, after a head injury when riding a bike without a helmet, can have to live in an institution. He also talks of the millions of dollars per person with a major head injury that it costs for medical and social care. He has asked children and parents : What can we do to help? They say - make bike helmets mandatory. We must do this. Liberals call on all MLAs to make bike helmet legislation mandatory. However, later on June 16th it became clear that in spite of our efforts to get this legislation passed, the NDP proved to be obstinate in not supporting mandatory bike helmet legislation to get through the Legislature this session.
January, 2012: Manitoba again gets poor marks from the Canadian Pediatric Society because it has failed to implement mandatory bike helmet legislation. See http://www.cps.ca/english/advocacy/StatusReport2012.pdf