October 20, 2019

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NDP promises supervised drug consumption site for Winnipeg

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>NDP candidates (from left) NDP Leader Wab Kinew, Uzoma Asagwara (Union Station) and Malaya Marcelino (Notre Dame), during a press conference in Vimy Ridge Park Monday.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

NDP candidates (from left) NDP Leader Wab Kinew, Uzoma Asagwara (Union Station) and Malaya Marcelino (Notre Dame), during a press conference in Vimy Ridge Park Monday.

Wab Kinew says, if he becomes premier, he would name a minister responsible for mental health and addictions, underscoring the importance the NDP places on these issues.

On Monday, the Manitoba NDP leader broadened his platform for dealing with the meth problem, while promising a new program to combat alcohol addiction.

He said an NDP government would fund a 25-bed supervised drug consumption site, primarily for meth addicts, at a cost of $1 million a year.

The NDP would also look to partner with a service delivery organization to introduce a "managed alcohol program" that could handle 34 live-in residents. Government would provide $500,000 a year in operating support. The facility would provide addicts with measured amounts of alcohol in a controlled setting as a way of transitioning them to a treatment program.

Wab Kinew says, if he becomes premier, he would name a minister responsible for mental health and addictions, underscoring the importance the NDP places on these issues.

On Monday, the Manitoba NDP leader broadened his platform for dealing with the meth problem, while promising a new program to combat alcohol addiction.

He said an NDP government would fund a 25-bed supervised drug consumption site, primarily for meth addicts, at a cost of $1 million a year.

The NDP would also look to partner with a service delivery organization to introduce a "managed alcohol program" that could handle 34 live-in residents. Government would provide $500,000 a year in operating support. The facility would provide addicts with measured amounts of alcohol in a controlled setting as a way of transitioning them to a treatment program.

Both sites would be located on Main Street in Winnipeg, Kinew said, where clients could get access to treatment and related health services.

At an announcement in Vimy Ridge Park, surrounded by NDP candidates, supporters and community activists, Kinew said the party would take concrete action to battle meth and alcohol addictions within 100 days of forming government. A cabinet minister would oversee a government department solely focused on addictions and mental health services.

"We will provide this ministry with the necessary resources to act as the quarterback for Manitoba's response to our addictions crisis," he said.

Earlier this summer, Kinew pledged to fund a multi-faceted meth intervention program operated by the Main Street Project. The NDP committed to providing $1.5 million in capital funding and $2 million annually in operating funding.

Increasing capacity to treat meth addiction will lower crime rates and improve community safety, said Kinew.

While the NDP leader said his meth platform is based on the advice of experts, the Progressive Conservatives weren't buying it. They said the New Democrats are ignoring the advice of addictions experts and Winnipeg's police chief, "who have correctly noted that there is no such thing as a 'safe' injection site for meth."

The PCs also cited a news report out of Calgary that showed a recent spike of calls to police to the area surrounding the Alberta city's only supervised drug consumption site.

The Manitoba Liberals, meanwhile, said the NDP and PCs "are leaving interventions to the last minute" and have no provincewide plan for meth and other addictions issues.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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History

Updated on Monday, August 19, 2019 at 6:16 PM CDT: Updates photo caption.

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