Manitoba does little to help meth addicts, protesters say
Dozens gathered outside Manitoba legislature Wednesday to speak out on meth crisis
Supporters of people addicted to methamphetamine rallied on the steps of the Manitoba legislature Wednesday to call on the Progressive Conservative government to spend more money on addiction supports in the province.
Families of addicts, along with non-profit workers and leaders of both the Manitoba Liberals and the NDP, took part in the event.
"This rally is born out of absolute frustration with a government that seems just not willing to respond," said Marion Willis, founder and executive director of St. Boniface Street Links.
"It's hard to know whether to laugh or to cry at this point."
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Willis is calling on the province to create a drug stabilization unit for meth addicts who often require months to recover from withdrawal symptoms. She said the Progressive Conservatives should also support Main Street Project's proposal to build a supervised drug consumption site.
In question period Wednesday, Premier Brian Pallister called the proposal a "relatively simplistic solution."
He said while the meth crisis is a concern "to all of us," the government is looking at the longer view to combat addictions, including starting before an addiction takes hold.
"We believe in school-based interventions to get in front of the problem rather than chase it at the tail end," Pallister said.
Officials are looking forward to reading a strategy the province commissioned Virgo consultants to write on dealing with addictions, the premier said.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the report is taking too long and leaving families and people with addictions in the lurch. One of the interventions that could make a difference, said Kinew, is a supervised injection site.
Meaghan Granger, a case manager with Turning Leaf Support Services — a non-profit group that helps people with mental illness and cognitive issues — said currently there's "nothing" for people with drug addiction and that lives are being lost unnecessarily.
"It hurts watching people lose their lives because of something that is completely beyond their control," she said.
She said she often sees people caught in a revolving door between mental health issues and addictions supports. It's not uncommon, for example, for addicts to have to wait before getting into detox. The wait is often too long for people in the grips of an addiction, who tend to act on impulses, she said.
"If an addict is wanting treatment they want it today. They don't want to be told, 'no no no, come back in 10 days,'" she said. "You have to be able to seize the moment."