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Initiatives coming shortly for meth problem, says Manitoba health minister

Health Minister Cam Friesen.
Health Minister Cam Friesen. Global News

Manitoba’s new health minister says he’s asking people to be patient as new programs are coming to deal with the growing meth problem.

Cam Friesen says new initiatives will be announced this fall.

The pledge comes after the Manitoba Nurse’s Union, Winnipeg police and health care providers beg for help dealing with the repercussions of those addicted to meth.

READ MORE: Meth crisis in Manitoba continues to soar

Those who are high on meth can become paranoid and violent, leading to a rise in assaults on nurses and security guards.

The Manitoba Nurses Union told 680CJOB Tuesday that a nurse was punched in the face Sept. 21, and they believe the man who punched her was high on methamphetamine.

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According to statistics from the union, the number of patients high on meth admitted to emergency rooms has increased by 1,200 per cent since 2013.

“What they’re seeing is patients that are coming in high on methamphetamine, they may be in a meth-induced psychosis, which means they are generally quite paranoid and have very high anxiety levels,” union president Darlene Jackson said.

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“They’re also very erratic, with unexpected behaviour. They can become very aggressive, which means you can’t really anticipate the type of behaviours they’re going to display.”

WATCH: Meth Q&A – Winnipeg police talk about the surge in violent crime

Meth Q&A: Winnipeg police talk about the surge in violent crime
Meth Q&A: Winnipeg police talk about the surge in violent crime

Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth told a community forum Wednesday night that meth is in all four corners of the city and that police resources are stretched thin.

“We are certainly seeing evidence of crime. We’re seeing a spike in violent crime. We’re seeing a spike in property crime and we’re seeing some association to the meth trade as a result of that.”

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Smyth said it’s an issue he continues to lose sleep over.

“It’s all around us if people are paying attention.”

— With files from Lauren McNabb, Amber McGuckin and the Canadian Press

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