Letters, March 15


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Better late than never

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Better late than never

After reading the opinion by Janice Morley- Lecomte, Manitoba minister for mental health and community awareness (Addictions treatment part of continuum of care, March 14), I had difficulty squaring her words with a report in the same edition (Province digs in amid calls for OD stats release) of the government’s decision to cease releasing information to media about deaths from overdose through the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

How convenient. It appears Morley-Lecomte’s op-ed was an attempt to shift from the statements of her predecessor about the dismal record of supervised consumption sites based on scant evidence.

While the previous minister did not even visit such a facility while in Vancouver and the premier made critical statements about sites in the U.S. that didn’t even exist, the prevarications appear to be piling up.

Instead of conjuring more images of deleterious effects of supervised consumption sites, Morley-Lecomte cites Portugal as a good model, as they evidently offer a continuum of services for addictions.

She suggests such sites could eventually be part of a Manitoba system of supports available to people living with addiction.

This sounds like what many in the treatment community asked for originally, if it’s more than pre-election posturing. Better late than never.

Donald Teel


Rather than release overdose stats, the minister of mental health and community wellness chose to write an opinion piece to deflect the issue and further gaslight citizens in believing this current government is doing everything it can for citizens struggling with addictions.

It’s not a secret the pandemic cut off the few services to people needing access, then nothing was done after as the issue was brought to their attention again and again by those on the front lines.

The issue I take most with her piece is the simplistic understanding of how Portugal dealt with its drug problem and these unfounded allegations of fly-by-night safe-consumption operations.

Let’s start with the former. Want to know what Portugal did in 2001 by shifting the issue to a public-health issue rather than criminal? They decriminalized drugs by eliminating the distinction between hard and soft drugs, and by sending those using drugs to treatment rather than jail. Oh, and they made sure the treatment was well-funded by spending money usually going to enforcement — you know, the hamster wheel we still use now with the legal system.

As for the serious concerns about potential fly-by-night operations due to “the absence of an established framework,” I must remind the minister she’s a minister of a portfolio whose job is to set those frameworks with the help of experts and those directly working with the issue. I am assuming that was what was meant by “we”?

The framework also includes providing staffing and funding needed for the long-term investment in reducing drug use and to keep people sober. What was offered within the article was too little, too late in a bid to save an election.

Fatima DeMelo


Small price to pay

Re: Final vote to rename Bishop Grandin on horizon (March 13)

A city councillor who makes objections to changing a street name on the basis that “renaming a street name is confusing, costly and potentially even dangerous” could not have been born in this city! Well, I was born in Winnipeg before Bishop Grandin Boulevard was built, and I knew the old city like the back of my hand before GPS was invented.

One day, while leaving a store at the corner of Bishop Grandin and St. Anne’s Road, I was stopped by a tourist from Minnesota who wanted to know how to get to an event at the West Kildonan arena.

So I told him that was easy, because once you turn right off of Grandin onto Dakota Street, you just keep going straight. Do not turn left or right at any light or stop sign, just follow your nose straight ahead.

So I told him that Dakota would turn into Dunkirk Street which will merge onto Osborne Street; then that will eventually change into Memorial Boulevard and soon after become Balmoral Street and then magically become Isabel Street, which goes over the Slaw Rebchuck Bridge and then you will be on Salter Street, and I am quite certain that the arena is out there somewhere… oh, and you will cross two rivers.

At that point, he thanked me as he was getting out of his car, and, seeming dazed and confused, walked over to the coffee shop.

So, yeah, I might agree with Coun. Jeff Browaty when he says “having multiple names for the same street makes giving directions difficult” — but hey, seasons change and we get used to it.

Renaming one long continuous boulevard to remember the children seems to be a small price to pay for the mistakes of the past.

Georges Beaudry

Dominion City

Confusing approach

Assaults are up downtown, in large part because of addiction; the police do not have the resources to combat current crime or keep staff in stations 24-7; and the government wants to allow liquor to be sold in private stores.

Seems the Progressive Conservatives are more keen on unnecessary privatization and less concerned about crime and public safety, given easier availability of alcohol is likely to increase crime directly due to robberies at stores selling liquor and indirectly by promoting inebriation.

Jim Clark


Cutting poverty requires systemic effort

In his recent column, Niigaan Sinclair (Hopeful time (sort of) for Indigenous people, March 11) pointed out that recent improvements in the treatment of Indigenous peoples are limited by insufficient help from Canadian governments to decrease Indigenous poverty.

The scale of this problem was apparent in the 2021 census, which reported that 18.8 per cent of Indigenous people are living in poverty compared with 10.7 per cent of non-Indigenous people (low income measure, after tax).

This burden of Indigenous poverty is especially serious because research has demonstrated that poverty is a prime determinant of health status, mental health problems and educational outcomes.

Hope can be converted to effective poverty reduction through supporting Indigenous peoples to create well-paying jobs and effective income support programs, and by combating colonial discrimination in the labour market, education system and criminal justice system.

Sid Frankel

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work

University of Manitoba

Encore, encore!

Ben Waldman wrote an excellent review (Winnipeg playwright’s Narrow Bridge a living piece of theatre with innumerable lessons, March 12). Daniel Thau-Eleff has written an awesome, prophetic, groundbreaking play.

Waldman names it as “spiritual theatre,” and it truly deserves that title. Somehow this play deals with religion from both sides now, the light and the dark. Frankly, I think it should be required viewing for every religious professional in all faith expressions.

Yes, the focus is on Judaism, but the message is for all absolutist institutions. Us/them is death; humanity as “we” is our only hope for eternal vision and it is the only future for humanity.

Thank you for the review and thank you, always, for writers who take the risk of words born in the flesh.

Karen E. Toole


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