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This article was published 11/6/2019 (399 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The province is expanding access to addictions services for youth in Winnipeg by moving counsellors to new locations around the city.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced the move Tuesday, during an onslaught of 14 announcements scheduled before the government's self-imposed, pre-election communications blackout period begins Wednesday.
Five youth counsellors from Addictions Foundation of Manitoba will be embedded at nine agencies around Winnipeg: Access Fort Garry, Aikins Street Community Health Centre, Centre de Santé Sainte-Boniface, Eagle Urban Transition, Macdonald Youth Services, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, New Directions, Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad, and the StreetReach Program.
One youth counsellor will continue work with Manitoba Justice's corrections division.
There were 478 admissions to AFM's youth services in Winnipeg between April 2018 and March 2019. Spreading out counsellors to agencies where youth are already seeking help for other issues — such as health care, housing and employment — may facilitate more support, an AFM spokesperson said by email.
Manitoba advocate for children and youth Daphne Penrose has been calling on the government to implement more addiction services for young people since September 2018, when she put out a public statement of concern on lack of resources and action.
She was encouraged to hear about the development Tuesday, calling it a "really, really positive step in a good direction for kids," but eager for more investment.
"I’m hoping to continue to see the strategy expand for kids who are extremely vulnerable. We're hoping to enhance detox services, have more accessibility for those, and more treatment beds for kids," Penrose said.
"Also, this is fantastic for us here in Winnipeg, but my concern also remains rural and urban. What’s out there for kids who are struggling with addictions in rural and urban (areas)? So there’s certainly areas that still need to be addressed, but this is certainly a really good start."
AFM provides some school-based programs for youth in Beautiful Plains School Division, Flin Flon School Division, Frontier School Division areas 2 and 4, Brandon School Division, School District of Mystery Lake, and Kelsey School Division. The foundation also has its voluntary Compass residential program for youth near Portage la Prairie, which can accommodate teens from 13- to 17-years-old, who want to change their alcohol or drug habits.
Asked whether more youth-oriented addictions services were on the way, Friesen responded with in an emailed statement.
"Just yesterday (Monday), we were proud to announce an expanded partnership with Strongest Families Institute, which provides early intervention services for children, youth and their families dealing with mild to moderate mental health issues. This expanded partnership will help an additional 500 families per year," he said.
"This announcement reflects our unwavering commitment to continuing our work to improve mental health and addictions services throughout Manitoba. In the past year, we have implemented 25 recommendations made in the Virgo report, which identified the need for enhancing mental health and addictions services throughout the province."
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