It’s time to treat addiction as a health issue

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Season’s greetings, everyone!

The holidays are a joyous time for many families and communities. This year is particularly special as we are able to gather with much more ease than recent years while still being mindful of ways we can help keep ourselves and loved one safe and healthy.

The holiday season can also be a challenge for individuals and families who are struggling with impacts of addictions and problematic substance use. One step we can all take to support those navigating addictions is to show compassion and do our part eliminate stigma. Government has an important role to play and unfortunately, we’ve seen that the PC government would rather not take a compassionate, data-informed and life-saving approach to providing services which meet people where they’re at.

The PC minister of mental Hhealth refuses to meet with experts regarding improving health-care access for those with addictions. It’s under the PC government that Manitoba has some of the highest and rapidly growing rates of HIV and congenital syphilis across Canada. Tragically, we are on pace to surpass last year’s record number of 407 overdose deaths. The Ppremier continues to ignore 80 front-line Manitoba organizations which have made clear that supervised consumption sites are preventative, primary and person-centred care which support people to safely work towards the end goal of recovery. Such sites connect people to nurses, mental-health workers, housing supports, pre-natal care and other essential health-care services which result in better health outcomes, save lives, help families and strengthen communities.

As we reflect on 2022 and how we can move forward into 2023, we should come together with a commitment to take steps which will mean more of our loved ones will be here with us and able to enjoy the holidays. We must recognize that health-care workers continue to provide excellent care in the midst of daunting systemic challenges and prioritize investing in strengthening public healthcare.

It’s clear change is necessary and a new government is needed. One which takes an evidence-based approach and understands that addiction should be treated as the health issue it is, not as a criminal issue as the PCs have unsuccessfully tried to convince people of.

We need an NDP government that listens to experts, works with front line providers, and supports families.

Over this holiday season, I hope you’re able to spend time with loved ones and that we all do our best to foster a healthy and caring communities.

Please feel free to reach out or connect over the coming weeks by calling 204-306-8581, emailing uzoma.asagwara@yourmanitoba.ca,or visiting my office at Unit 1, 331 Smith St. Happy new year, everyone!

Uzoma Asagwara

Uzoma Asagwara
Union Station constituency report

Uzoma Asagwara is the NDP MLA for Union Station.

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