Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jan 2018
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2018 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Joyanne Pursaga
Page: 4


NDP lobbying for safe injection sites

Manitoba's official opposition is lobbying for safe injection sites,
in Winnipeg and beyond.

NDP leader Wab Kinew said the Progressive Conservative government
should spend some of the $10.9 million federal dollars it's received
to address mental health and addictions to develop such sites, which
he believes are needed in Winnipeg and other Manitoba

Kinew said the effort is critical to combat a surge in crystal meth
and fentanyl abuse.

"We know that safe (injection) sites save lives and we know that
(addiction) is reaching crisis proportions. So we need to see action,"
said Kinew.

Kinew urges the Tory government to consult with existing addictions
experts to determine how and where such sites should be set up. He
said options range from training select staff at existing outreach
agencies to the construction of stand-alone buildings.

And that's needed as soon as possible, since safe injection sites have
been proven to reduce overdose deaths and public drug use, argues Kinew.

"What I don't want to see is my kids to be seeing dirty needles while
they're out playing and I definitely don't want to see people dying
out on the streets of Winnipeg," he said. "(This) might be an entry
way for (drug users) to get treatment, it might be an entry way for
them to access other medical services that they need."

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2011 that Insite, a safe
consumption site in Vancouver, "has been proven to save lives with no
discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives
of Canada." The New England Journal of Medicine has also credited such
facilities for preventing overdose deaths.

Kinew noted Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and B.C. all offer at least one
safe injection site.

Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen was unavailable for
interviews Friday.

The minister has previously told media, however, that he's not
convinced safe injection sites would prove effective in Manitoba,
noting substance abuse isn't as concentrated here as it is in cities
like Vancouver.

In an email Friday, he confirmed the provincial government has no
plans to add a safe injection site.

"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," wrote Goertzen.
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