Pallister announces plan to fight drug use and distribution in Manitoba
Jeremie Charron, CTV News Winnipeg
Published Wednesday, August 7, 2019 6:24PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, August 8, 2019 11:52AM CST
Manitoba Provincial Conservative leader Brian Pallister made a campaign promise Wednesday to address the rise in drug use and distribution in Manitoba, if re-elected.
Speaking at the Behavioral Health Foundation, Pallister unveiled a plan he says will help fight escalating addiction and crime rates.
“We want to help people off the treadmill to tragedy and onto the road to recovery,” said Pallister.
“Those struggling with drug addiction are not suffering alone; they have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons, daughters, and friends who suffer right alongside them. Families, not just individuals are all impacted by the scourge of drugs."
The PC party's ‘Safer Streets, Safer Lives’ action plan, said to be a $20 million investment, focuses on three main points: treatment, education, and enforcement.
It would include a new acute medical sobering facility that could treat 20 to 30 patients at a time, as well as new recovery and drop-in centres.
“This is a comprehensive plan to tackle illicit drug use and its effects, and help people suffering from addictions, help their families, and the communities in which they live,” said Cameron Friesen, MLA for Morden Winkler.
Pallister says if re-elected he would update the anti-addiction curriculum and teach students as early as grade 3 about substance abuse and prevention.
He says he would also invest nearly $8 million to help police fight gangs and criminals, as well as work with them on the best ways to improve safety on city streets.
“The measure we are announcing will help improve safety in downtown Winnipeg and give law enforcement more tools to arrest dealers, and reduce the flow of meth and other dangerous illicit drugs into Manitoba," said Cliff Cullen, MLA for Spruce Woods.
Marion Willis, founder and executive director of St. Boniface Street Links and Morberg House, says she has reservations about the announcement.
“We need help right now, this has been one of the worst summers,” said Willis.
“We need a plan, the province needs a plan, the city needs a plan, and I think that those who are best equipped to inform that plan actually have not been heard from."
In a statement to CTV News Wednesday, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said: "The PCs have denied, delayed and dragged their feet as the meth epidemic has ravaged communities. Now that they are facing an election, they are promising to act."
Also in a statement, the NDP said: "For three years Brian Pallister has done nothing while meth has ravaged families, caused a massive spike in crime and led to a public health crisis."
Both the NDP and Liberal parties have presented their own plans to tackle the drug problem, if elected.
The NDP announced in July it would put the Main Street Project’s meth crisis plan into action – which includes building detox, treatment and transitional housing beds for those dealing with addiction.
The Liberals also announced in July their addictions plan – which would include the creation of “drug stabilization units” where people in meth withdrawal could be safely held.