Gov­ern­ments pledge $8.4M to tackle meth cri­sis


MAN­I­TOBA and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment are pledg­ing a com­bined $8.4 mil­lion to tackle the prov­ince’s metham­phetamine cri­sis.

Pro­vin­cial Health Min­is­ter Cameron Friesen said meth ad­dic­tion is cre­at­ing dif­fer­ent prob­lems than other drugs be­cause the high can last for hours and, in some cases, days. It also takes much longer to get clean.

“Who­ever I talk to says meth is dif­fer­ent,” Friesen said Fri­day. “It is not like other il­licit drugs that pro­fes­sion­als have en­coun­tered be­fore.”

Num­bers from Win­nipeg’s health au­thor­ity show there has been more than a 1,700 per cent in­crease in peo­ple go­ing to hospi­tals be­cause of metham­phetamine: from 12 in April 2013, to 218 in April 2018.

An ad­vi­sory note to the health min­is­ter ob­tained by the Man­i­toba New Demo­cratic Party through a free­do­mof-in­for­ma­tion re­quest in Oc­to­ber said the num­ber of peo­ple en­ter­ing treat­ment for meth ad­dic­tion at pub­licly funded cen­tres had in­creased 630 per cent since 2012, to 744 from 102.

The money will go to in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity for peo­ple who are go­ing through with­drawal in Win­nipeg and Bran­don. Friesen said that will al­low for more flex­i­bil­ity and longer stays to tackle meth ad­dic­tion.

The money will also be used to cre­ate a mo­bile with­drawal ser­vice.

Dr. Ji­ten­der Sa­reen, a med­i­cal health direc­tor with Win­nipeg’s health au­thor­ity, said the new money will help fill a ma­jor gap in care. He said the first phase of get­ting off meth is the im­me­di­ate with­drawal, and it of­ten hap­pens in an acute-care set­ting such as an emer­gency room.

How­ever, peo­ple are still at risk dur­ing the sec­ond phase. They of­ten have anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, psy­chotic symp­toms, crav­ings and night­mares for months af­ter quit­ting the drug.

Half of the new money comes from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s Emer­gency Treat­ment Fund, which was cre­ated to ad­dress the opi­oid cri­sis. In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter Jim Carr, who rep­re­sents Man­i­toba in the fed­eral cab­i­net, said treat­ment is the best op­tion for many peo­ple.

“Un­for­tu­nately, find­ing and ac­cess­ing ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment can be dif­fi­cult,” he said.

A re­quest for pro­pos­als is to be is­sued in the new year and ser­vices are ex­pected in the spring. Friesen said he ex­pects the ad­di­tional sup­port to help at least 130 peo­ple each year.

“(Meth) has a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on in­di­vid­u­als, it has a dev­as­tat­ing af­fect on re­la­tion­ships and it re­sults with (an) over ac­quain­tance with the health sys­tem, the fam­ily sys­tem and the jus­tice sys­tem,” he said.


RCMP pull over ve­hi­cles dur­ing a check­stop on the Trans-Canada Highway at the Head­in­g­ley weigh scales Fri­day morn­ing.

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