August 23, 2019

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Ottawa delves into meth crisis

'It's really gotten a foothold here': Winnipeg MP

Tim Smith / The Brandon Sun files</p><p>Sheri Fandrey, the Knowledge Exchange Lead at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, and Catarina Witt, communications co-ordinator for the AFM, speak to a large crowd during an information and brainstorming session about crystal meth put on by AFM at the Victoria Inn on Monday.</p>

Tim Smith / The Brandon Sun files

Sheri Fandrey, the Knowledge Exchange Lead at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, and Catarina Witt, communications co-ordinator for the AFM, speak to a large crowd during an information and brainstorming session about crystal meth put on by AFM at the Victoria Inn on Monday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/9/2018 (348 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Parliament will hold hearings on the fallout of meth on places like Winnipeg after a local MP asked his colleagues to look at everything from mental health to restricting access to ingredients used to make the drug.

“It’s cheap; it’s very easy to produce, so it’s really gotten a foothold here,” said Charleswood-area MP Doug Eyolfson said, admitting his federal Liberals are grappling to respond to what officials have called a crisis.

The former emergency-room doctor convinced the House health committee in April to commit to “undertake a study on the impacts of methamphetamine abuse in Canada in order to develop recommendations” that Ottawa can take alongside the provinces.

Earlier this month, the Free Press reported that Health Canada had prepared a scant, two-page briefing note for federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor in her first 10 months on the job, according to a freedom-of-information request.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/9/2018 (348 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Parliament will hold hearings on the fallout of meth on places like Winnipeg after a local MP asked his colleagues to look at everything from mental health to restricting access to ingredients used to make the drug.

"It’s cheap; it’s very easy to produce, so it’s really gotten a foothold here," said Charleswood-area MP Doug Eyolfson said, admitting his federal Liberals are grappling to respond to what officials have called a crisis.

The former emergency-room doctor convinced the House health committee in April to commit to "undertake a study on the impacts of methamphetamine abuse in Canada in order to develop recommendations" that Ottawa can take alongside the provinces.

"The federal government knows more about it now — basically, we’re playing catch-up. It’s taken off so quickly that a lot of the country doesn’t even know about it" - Charleswood-area Liberal MP Doug Eyolfson

Earlier this month, the Free Press reported that Health Canada had prepared a scant, two-page briefing note for federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor in her first 10 months on the job, according to a freedom-of-information request.

In July, Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth declared the city "a community in crisis," with meth causing an uptick in violent crimes.

Eyolfson said that since then, he’s raised the issue with Petitpas Taylor. He’s also had fellow MPs from the west and east coasts ask him about reports that meth is ravaging the Prairies.

"The federal government knows more about it now — basically, we’re playing catch-up," he said. "It’s taken off so quickly that a lot of the country doesn’t even know about it."

Earlier this year, public health experts said Ottawa had limited means to tackle meth compared with fentanyl because the latter mostly arrives from abroad and can be regulated as a prescription drug.

Eyolfson believes Ottawa can still do something, like funding treatments, issuing recommendations to drug manufacturers, shaping the Liberals’ poverty-reduction strategy and more restrictions on key ingredients "without compromising the legitimate use of these things."

Committee members like Eyolfson will soon be reaching out to health, social-work and law-enforcement experts in Manitoba and beyond. He hopes this will include a mix of urban, rural and Indigenous people.

"The medical evidence says that if you’re dealing with drug problems, the number of things that need to be factored in go so far beyond the actual substance; you look at the root causes."

Overworked committees sometimes delay studies or opt against reports, and the health committee already has a laundry list of topics to consider, from diabetes to organ donation. Eyolfson’s motion calls for the study to be completed by December, with a report to the government; he’s hoping that implies enough urgency for the study to start this fall.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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