Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jan 2018
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2018 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Nick Martin
Page: A5


DP Leader Wab Kinew demanded Friday that provincial Health Minister
Kelvin Goertzen create safe consumption sites for injection drug users
in Winnipeg and other communities in Manitoba.

"There are people in our city who are dying," Kinew told

But Goertzen said in an emailed statement late Friday that he's not
considering establishing sites.

Kinew said deaths and overdoses from opioids and methamphetamine have
reached crisis proportions in Winnipeg.

"It's time for there to be a safe consumption site in Winnipeg," he
said. "We know safe consumption sites save lives."

Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia already have such sites, Kinew

"I don't want my kids to see dirty needles when they're out playing. I
don't want to see people dying," he said.

Goertzen said he isn't convinced.

"We are not considering establishing a safe injection site in
Winnipeg, as we have not seen evidence that it would be the most
effective use of available funding to help those struggling with
addiction in Manitoba," Goertzen said.

"Manitoba, like other provinces, is still finalizing the terms of our
bilateral agreement with the federal government, but we are currently
working with stakeholders and department officials to develop
proposals for the allocated federal funding," the health minister said.

"Those proposals must also consider the various forms of addiction in
Manitoba, including addiction to alcohol.

"While federal support is welcome, it only represents a small portion
of funding that Manitoba would have received under the previous
federal health-funding agreement. Manitoba continues to take steps to
deal with the reduction in anticipated funding from the federal
Liberal government, and the impact it has in all areas of health care,
including mental health and addiction."

Kinew said that Ottawa needs to sign off, but the provinces then fund
the sites under their public health systems. He's already been calling
on Goertzen to do more to battle addiction, using the federal mental
health funding available to Manitoba Health.

"I would hope the minister of health's ideological beliefs don't get
in the way of science," Kinew urged.

Meanwhile, Sel Burrows, chair of a Point Douglas community residents
group, said Friday that "The issue of meth in our community is
extremely severe. However important additional treatment facilities
are, we should not overlook the crucial issue of prevention.
Preventing a person from becoming a meth addict is more humane and
economically more sustainable than treating a meth addict. Media have
reported needs for more treatment facilities, which I agree with,
particularly for people when they are high.

"However, little attention is paid to preventing meth from reaching
potential addicts," Burrows said.

"Winnipeg Police Service has really stepped up its interdiction of
meth. The more meth taken off the street, the higher the price and the
less available it becomes to potential users.
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MAP posted-by: Matt