Consultations set to begin on spot for planned Winnipeg supervised consumption site

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is making progress on its plan to open the province's first supervised drug consumption site in central Winnipeg.

The government will work with the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, which already runs an addiction clinic, and consultations are to begin soon on finding an exact location.

"We've looked at other jurisdictions. It is clear that there will be an impact when you open a supervised consumption site in terms of the next few blocks around it," Premier Wab Kinew said Monday.

"So we need to select the location with that in mind. That means it probably can't go near a school or a daycare. Are there other areas where maybe we could put a community plan around (it) with foot patrol and collaboration with law enforcement?"

Manitoba is the only province east of New Brunswick without a safe consumption site. The NDP government promised $2.5 million for such a facility in its spring budget, with the goal of having it up and running in 2025.

The facility will not add to the drug supply, Kinew said, but will offer medical supervision and options for treatment.

"We want somebody to have a conversation about 'are you ready for treatment, are you ready for detox,'" Kinew said.

The Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre currently operates one of the province's Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine, or RAAM, clinics. They are drop-in clinics for people looking to get help with high-risk substance use, and offer services including recommendations on medication to ease withdrawal symptoms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2024.

The Canadian Press