Jessica Botelho-Urbanski, Winnipeg Free Press

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg, MB, Canada

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Past articles by Jessica:

Bowman delivers annual mean tweet treat

When it comes to community consultations, Twitter isn't usually the kindest forum for feedback. Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman knows this first-hand, and acknowledged some of the pointed criticisms he received online in 2019 in a video posted to his social media accounts Monday. → Read More

Too early for accurate forecast, but signs point to increased spring-flood risk: province

Manitoba is at a higher risk of spring flooding after receiving near-record-high precipitation levels this fall, though flood forecasters aren't ready to sound alarm bells yet. While almost all Manitoba's river basins received normal to below-normal precipitation levels between May and August, the next two months were a different story. → Read More

Mayor put out over sewage plant

Mayor Brian Bowman said the provincial government’s decision to force the city to develop an interim solution to reduce phosphorus at the North End sewage plant by Feb. 1 was one of the year’s biggest surprises. → Read More

Manitoba Liberal pushes federal Liberals on child welfare

Provincial Liberals are urging their federal cousins to respect a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling and develop a plan to immediately pay Indigenous kids and families wronged by the child welfare system. Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont shared a Nov. → Read More

Province delivers nearly $5M to program helping sexually exploited youths

The Manitoba government announced $4.9 million in new funding for mental health and addictions-related initiatives to help sexually exploited youths Tuesday. Families Minister Heather Stefanson said the money will be doled out over three years to groups that can help strengthen StreetReach's mandate. → Read More

Province's money-losing marijuana numbers don't add up, opposition leaders say

On the first anniversary of cannabis legalization, critics are questioning why the provincial government isn't publicly predicting profits from sales of the drug just yet. The government's total gross profit from sales in 2018-19 exceeded $5.3 million, according to the province's latest public accounts. → Read More

Distemper suspected in dogs' deaths

Dozens of dogs have died and dozens more have become sick in a “catastrophic” outbreak of canine distemper in a northern Manitoba community.Dr. Carla Loewen, a veterinarian in Virden, and other volunteers will head to Moose Lake next week to see if they can quarantine and support any sick dogs. → Read More

Injection drugs surpass sex for HIV transmission

For the first time, injection drug use has become the most likely way HIV is transmitted in the province, surpassing heterosexual sex.The finding is part of a July 2019 Manitoba HIV program update, obtained by the NDP through freedom of information law and presented in question period Wednesday. → Read More

Province ponders off-loading ice breaking equipment

The Manitoba government is asking private companies whether they would be interested in leasing or buying provincially-owned ice-breaking equipment used to prevent flooding on the Red River.Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler confirmed the province last month issued a request for interest regarding its three Amphibex ice-breaking machines — valued around $1.5 million apiece, according to the… → Read More

Province announces nearly $3M in funds for youth mental-health initiatives

The provincial government announced nearly $3 million in funding Monday to improve mental-health services for youths in Manitoba.In a morning news conference at NorWest Youth Hub and Community Food Centre, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said Monday’s announcement would mark the first of more than a dozen mental-health and addictions-related initiatives the government plans to reveal before the… → Read More

Public consumption of cannabis edibles to be banned: Pallister

Premier Brian Pallister made a grab-bag of announcements Friday, including the possibility of amending Manitoba law to make clear all cannabis consumption in public is illegal.At his afternoon media availability, Pallister was asked whether Manitobans would be allowed to consume cannabis edibles in public, once the products are legalized by the federal government later this year. → Read More

Gerrard, Friesen clash over personal care home staffing levels

For the first time in his 20-year Manitoba legislature career, Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard was asked to leave the chamber Thursday, following what the Speaker called "extremely rude and inappropriate behaviour."During a question period exchange with Health Minister Cameron Friesen, Gerrard (River Heights) asked the minister about what he believes are inadequate staffing levels at personal care homes. → Read More

Advocates dispute call to close downtown liquor mart

Amid calls by two prominent politicians for the closure of a downtown liquor mart, harm-reduction advocates are pushing for a more progressive approach to quelling alcohol addiction, rather than forced abstinence. Both Mayor Brian Bowman and Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont have suggested closing the provincially run liquor store at Ellice Avenue and Hargrave Street, which sells a large quantity of… → Read More

'Very unique situation': province to investigate case of man jailed for lack of 35 cents

Manitoba's justice minister vowed to investigate a Free Press story about an Ontario man kept incarcerated for a week after being short 35 cents for bail, and make systemic changes if necessary. "Clearly, if there’s a policy or procedure here that allows this to happen, it will have to be changed. → Read More

Province says new hires heading to hospitals

While staff vacancy rates have risen at some Winnipeg hospitals since last year, Manitoba’s health minister said new hires are on the way to fill the gaps. During a committee of supply Monday, opposition MLAs grilled Cameron Friesen about the vacancies at hospital emergency departments throughout the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA). → Read More

Chipman calls on business leaders to join Winnipeg addictions fight

As the province grapples with a severe addictions crisis, one of Manitoba's most prominent business leaders threw down the gauntlet Friday, calling on the private sector to step up efforts to quell addictions and improve public safety in downtown Winnipeg. "I just think we can do better. → Read More

Province denies neglecting addictions, mental health

When the new provincial government announced 100 items it wanted to accomplish in its first 100 days... → Read More

Manitoba numbers game

The Pallister government says it is ahead of schedule in slaying the province's deficit, but Manitoba's auditor general says the task is already done. For the second consecutive year, Norm Ricard has cited errors in the government's accounting practices, qualifying his audit opinion of the province's annual financial statements. → Read More

Former first lady lights up downtown arena with inspirational message

There were no musicians on stage at Bell MTS Place Tuesday, but make no mistake, Michelle Obama hit all the right notes. "I just wish I could play an instrument and sing; I would be so intolerable," she told an adoring audience. → Read More

MMF leader stands by Trudeau

Despite officially heading a non-partisan organization, the Manitoba Metis Federation's leader has been one of the federal Liberal government's staunchest defenders since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office in 2015.And, despite revelations this week about the Liberal leader wearing black and brown facepaint at least three times since 2001, MMF president David Chartrand is still firmly Team… → Read More