Manitoba to Announce Next Steps for Winnipeg's First Permanent Supervised Drug Consumption Site

Manitoba to open Winnipeg's first permanent supervised drug consumption site, addressing the province's addiction crisis with 445 drug-related deaths in 2023. The site aims to provide vital harm reduction services and save lives.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Manitoba to Announce Next Steps for Winnipeg's First Permanent Supervised Drug Consumption Site

Manitoba to Announce Next Steps for Winnipeg's First Permanent Supervised Drug Consumption Site

The Manitoba government is set to announce the next steps for establishing Winnipeg's first permanent supervised drug consumption site, which aims to address the province's addiction crisis that saw 445 drug-related deaths in 2023, according to Addictions and Homelessness Minister Bernadette Smith. The supervised consumption site is part of the government's efforts to tackle the urgent need for harm reduction services in Winnipeg and the broader Manitoba region.

A recent consultant's report evaluated the use of a mobile supervised consumption site in Winnipeg, finding that it saves lives and delivers vital services to people struggling with addictions. The report showed there were 26,000 visits to the mobile site from November 2022 to October 2023, with about a quarter involving people using drugs under supervision. While the NDP government has promised to establish a permanent site, there is still no timeline for when it may open.

Why this matters: The establishment of a permanent supervised drug consumption site in Winnipeg is an essential step in addressing Manitoba's growing addiction crisis. With 445 drug-related deaths in 2023 alone, the need for effective harm reduction services has never been more pressing.

Arlene Last Kolb, a Winnipeg mom whose son died from fentanyl poisoning, advocates for a safer drug supply as a critical harm reduction approach. "A combination of supervised consumption sites and safer supply would be powerful, but still not enough against the drug crisis, and a more holistic range of supports is needed," she said.

The Manitoba government plans to spend $2.5 million on the monitored consumption site, hire 20 mental health professionals, open 400 new detox beds, and spend $500,000 on 24-hour rehab centers. However, the province's focus is currently on creating the first supervised consumption site and making drug testing available, rather than exploring affordable safe supply options.

The success of the mobile overdose prevention site in Winnipeg, which saw over 26,000 visits in its first year of operation and reversed 20 overdoses with no deaths, highlights the impact of harm reduction services. The report on the mobile site's operations credits the peer workers for creating a warm and welcoming environment.

Minister Smith emphasized that the government is working on a community-led approach, collaborating with frontline organizations, experts, and drug users and their families to establish the permanent supervised consumption site. Preliminary data shows there were 445 drug-related deaths in Manitoba in 2023 and 467 in 2022, underscoring the urgency of the situation.

Key Takeaways

  • Manitoba to announce next steps for Winnipeg's first permanent supervised drug consumption site.
  • Mobile overdose prevention site in Winnipeg saw 26,000 visits, reversing 20 overdoses with no deaths.
  • 445 drug-related deaths in Manitoba in 2023, highlighting the urgent need for harm reduction services.
  • Government plans to spend $2.5M on the site, hire 20 mental health professionals, and open 400 new detox beds.
  • Community-led approach to establish the permanent site, collaborating with frontline organizations and experts.