December 12, 2018 8:20 pm

‘We’re taking real action’: Manitoba premier says province hard at work on meth crisis

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister speaks to media at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg on Nov. 20, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
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Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says his government is hard at work dealing with the province’s crystal meth crisis, despite calls for quicker action.

On Wednesday, Pallister said the province is taking “real actions that are going to help.”

“We are taking this issue tremendously seriously and we are focused on it. I accept the fact there is criticism, but it is largely useless,” Pallister said.

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Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman has said the province has been moving too slowly on meth and spoke with the House of Commons Health Committee on Tuesday about how the crisis is affecting the city.

READ MORE: Mayors plead for Ottawa’s help dealing with meth-fueled crime

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority documents released Tuesday said that “a lack of provincial leadership” was being shown on the issue, but the premier disagrees.

Pallister says the province is working with other levels of government as well as other organizations in the community.

“I think what meth users want — and what those who don’t use it want — is co-operative action based on intelligent research and foresight, and that’s what we’re offering Manitobans,” he said.

READ MORE: HSC guards plead with province to help deal with meth violence

Pallister says part of his government’s plan is to focus on public safety. The premier pointed to recent incidents in which Winnipeg hospital staff were attacked by meth patients, saying this should not happen.

“Manitobans who don’t choose to use crystal meth or any other drug should not feel unsafe in their own province,” he said.

“It’s possible to work on these things simultaneously, and we’re pursuing numerous initiatives to make sure we’re protecting those who use meth and protecting those who choose not to.”

The province recently committed $4.2 million to treatment beds for meth users and announced a new drug protocol in which paramedics will be able to administer olanzapine, an antipsychotic medication given to agitated people on meth.

The premier gave no timeline on when any further announcements would take place.

WATCH: Increases in communicable diseases linked to meth use, NDP call for action

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