Health minister not sure Main Street Project's safe injection site proposal is a fit for Winnipeg
Main Street Project wants to expand into Mitchell Fabrics building on Main Street to open safe injection site
Manitoba's health minister says support for a proposal to create an addictions centre in the former Mitchell Fabrics building on Main Street will depend on the availability of resources.
Officials with Winnipeg's Main Street Project hope to move into the building in order to open a safe injection site and to free up space at their existing Martha Street site to open a long-term crystal meth detox facility.
"Any time we get people coming from the community and bringing forward ideas for dealing with a significant addictions problem, which exists not just in Manitoba but across Canada, that's good," Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said.
"The challenge, of course, we have is prioritizing those ideas."
Main Street Project wants to open a 10-bed detox centre to provide care for up to a year and also house mental health programs to help addicts deal with the issues around their addictions.
It also hopes to open a safe injection site at the Mitchell Fabrics building. Goertzen, who had voiced his opposition to the idea of a safe injection site previously, reiterated his reasons for why he doesn't think the idea would work in Winnipeg.
"When we looked at the Manitoba statistics, it's different than you might see in Vancouver, where there's a high concentration of opioid users, for example, in a fairly small area," Goertzen said.
Opioid users will not necessarily get on a bus to go to a supervised injection site, he said.
"And in Manitoba, the vast majority of people that are dying from the use of opioids — more than 70 per cent, I understand — are dying at home. So they're not dying on the street, necessarily."
Goertzen said he received a report from consulting firm Virgo Planning and Evaluation, which was hired to review how addictions and mental health services can be better co-ordinated in Manitoba. He said he expects that report will be released publicly sometime in May.
"I think that that report will guide us in the right direction to using the resources that we have to deal with this," he said.
"There isn't a province in Canada that has immediate access, on-demand access for drug treatment. There isn't a province in Canada that isn't struggling to match up the resources with the need when it comes to addictions."
With files from Shane Gibson