Tories announce 3-component plan to tackle Manitoba's meth problem
Party says it would build detox facility, spend millions on policing initiatives
A re-elected Progressive Conservative government would build a short-term detox facility for methamphetamine users, and spend millions on law enforcement initiatives, the party promised on Wednesday.
The Tories, who have been slammed for not doing enough to combat the drug's hold on Manitoba, unveiled a new strategy to address the rising use of meth, which they said would cost roughly $20 million if enacted.
A key tenet of the proposal is building a detox facility it described as an "acute medical sobering facility" staffed by mental health professionals.
It would treat 20 to 30 patients at a time, for a duration of one to four days.
"We want to help people get off the treadmill to tragedy and onto the road to recovery," PC Leader Brian Pallister said Wednesday at an announcement at the Behavioural Health Foundation.
The patients would then be directed to other services, such as new recovery and drop-in centres where meth users can also receive guidance.
The drug's proliferation has been tied to a disturbing spike in crime and violence in Winnipeg that underscores the strain police and emergency services are facing.
The Progressive Conservatives also pledge to expand the availability of withdrawal services in Winnipeg, supportive recovery housing units and street outreach programs.
Status quo not working
Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen, who serves as health minister, said his party is acting on the evidence.
"What we are understanding is this catch-and-release style of admitting someone to a bed in the evening and then releasing them to the community in the morning is not working to be able to stabilize them enough," Friesen said.
The party would also add the province's sixth Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine treatment facility, which function as walk-in clinics for addictions treatment, somewhere in the Southern Health region.
The Tories also announced they plan to spend millions on measures to improve public safety in downtown Winnipeg and give law enforcement more tools to stifle the flow of meth into the province.
To this end, they would earmark $8 million for all police agencies over the next four years to support roadway and drug enforcement and joint force operations.
"These and other thoughtful initiatives will help those who have made the mistake of choosing drugs, but they will also protect those who have chosen not to," Pallister said.
Other proposed actions include:
- Directing the Manitoba Police Commission to consult with the Winnipeg Police Service and the private sector on what actions should be taken. The commission is expected to report back to the government in 60 days with its recommendations.
- Establishing a centralized criminal intelligence database to co-ordinate and share information that will help police identify drug dealers.
- $5.8 million over four years, spread between all policing agencies, to support enforcement and joint operations to crack down on the drug trade.
- Spending $200,000 to support more Crime Stoppers advertising and put up more cash for drug tips.
- $1 million toward tactical enforcement efforts by the Winnipeg Police Service.
In addition, the Tories said they plan to update the current school curriculum so children will be better educated on the risks of substance abuse, starting in Grade 3.
Pallister said the new promises are in addition to the estimated $10 million the Progressive Conservatives spent to address the problem of rising meth use in their first mandate.
Manitobans will go to the polls on Sept. 10.