There are questions and concerns about how useful a new province-wide drug protocol to deal with meth users will be.

Starting in December paramedics will be able to give patients olanzapine, an oral tablet that can lessen the severity of psychosis, if they agree to take it.

CTV News agreed to conceal the identity of a Manitoba paramedic speaking out about some of the concerns around the new protocol.

Having worked in the field for a decade, the paramedic said most meth calls don't come in when people are in the euphoric stage of the high.

The paramedic said a third of meth users experience a psychotic phase and attending a call for help can be stressful and dangerous.

“It took five police officers to contain this gentlemen who is flailing and trying to kick out car windows, there is no reasoning, he's hit that phase of aggression, and he's in a deep psychosis,” the paramedic said of one call responded to on the side of a highway.

The province said olanzapine can calm someone down within 30 minutes. It believes it will help get them safely to the emergency room.

But the paramedic doesn't expect the drug to be used very often.

“To look at someone and say here's a medication, take it, it's going to help you, I would say it's near impossible,” they said.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union represents thousands of workers who come into contact with meth users, including nurses, security guards and paramedics.

President Michelle Gawronsky wants to know why olanzapine was chosen, knowing people high on meth can be violent.

"Paramedics need a more substantial plan, a process in place that actually ensures the safety of the patients, the paramedics and the people around them,” she said.

There are other drugs used to sedate patients that can be injected or inhaled without patient consent.

The paramedic who spoke with CTV News said olanzapine is a step in the right direction, but much more is needed.

"More time spent with crisis intervention and rehab for these people so everyone is safe, so these calls will one day be reduced,” the paramedic said.


The government said the oral tablet is only one tool in the fight against meth.

Manitoba Health said it doesn't require any additional funding.

The cost of the tablets will be funded within existing medical budgets and the roll out done through routine training.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the government is making additional announcements in the coming days and weeks on efforts coming to improve access to addictions services.

It's also seeking proposals to allow Manitobans with complex mental health and addictions issues to be treated in facilities closer to home.

“We've added beds at Health Sciences Centre, we've added women's addictions beds in Winnipeg, we just opened our fifth rapid to access addictions clinics,” said Friesen on Monday.