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Almost half of Winnipeggers would approve of safe injection sites: Poll

A new drug is circulating in Saskatchewan. W-18 is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 1,000 times stronger than morphine.
File / Global News

WINNIPEG — Nearly half of Winnipeggers would approve setting up a safe injection site, according to a Mainstream Postmedia Poll conducted early in January.

Of the 605 people surveyed in Winnipeg, 46 per cent approve of a safe injection site being set up in the city. Twenty-three per cent strongly approve while another 23 per cent somewhat approve.

There doesn’t appear to be political urgency when it comes to supervised injection sites in Winnipeg.

“I have never had anybody raise that as a priority for the city of Winnipeg,” said Mayor Brian Bowman.

“I won’t dismiss the suggestion but at the same time it isn’t something we’ve had significant discussion on,” said Premier Brian Pallister.

However a doctor at one of the busiest methadone clinics in the city said there is a place for supervised injection sites in Winnipeg.

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“If we work together on this and educate people and again I think that’s an argument about safe injection sites, that having people around who have skills, who have greater understanding are going to increase your probability of survival but never guarantee it,” said Dr. Richard Letkeman at Opiate Addictions Treatment Services.

The conversation of safe injection sites has heated up since the fentanyl and carfentanil influx across Canada.

READ MORE: Being on fentanyl is like ‘hell on earth’, says former addict from Winnipeg

Forty per cent of those surveyed said they’d been “following the story of fentanyl” with only 25 per cent of those following it “very closely.” Nearly a quarter said they were not aware of the story at all.

WATCH: Global’s coverage of fentanyl related stories in Winnipeg

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“We’ve seen numerous reports from across the country that recreational drugs are becoming more dangerous, despite the fact that we are seeing a sharp spike in overdoses, 45 per cent of Winnipegers say there has been no change when it comes to the safety of recreational drugs,” Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Research said in a news release.

Fentanyl – a drug prescribed for chronic pain management – is roughly 100 times more potent than morphine and about 40 times stronger than heroin. It produces a drug high but also depresses the body’s rate of respiration, which can cause breathing to stop.

The poll was conducted between Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 and the margin of error is ±3.98 per cent, 19 times out of 20.