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Report suggests Winnipeg in need of a safe consumption site

The debate over safe consumption sites in Manitoba is once again in the spotlight, a new study by health officials, front line workers and drug users shows overwhelming support for a safe consumption site.

A new study by health officials, front line workers and drug users shows overwhelming support for a safe consumption site in Manitoba.

The 68-page report called ‘Safer Consumption Spaces’ interviews more thanĀ  80-current drug users, 80 per cent of whom said they would use a safe consumption site if they could.

READ MORE: ‘I don’t think we should be ruling anything out’: Mayor Bowman open to safe injection sites

“The real value of the study is that it’s people who are using and it’s in their own voice that is the key,” Sunshine House Executive Director Levi Foy said.

The provincial New Democrats introduced the report at the Manitoba legislature recently, and called on the province to reverse their long-standing opposition.

“They have a predetermined outcome in mind, they don’t want a safe consumption site even though this report is telling them that it has so many public health benefits that it would be used and service providers support it,” sai NDP leader Wab Kinew.

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READ MORE: Manitoba moving too slowly on meth: Mayor Brian Bowman

The city could open its own safe consumption site without support from the province, but Mayor Brian Bowman said he won’t go it alone.

“I’m not going to stand in the way of those possibly opening in the city of Winnipeg but I’m not looking for the City of Winnipeg to get involved with the supervision of healthcare services that’s within provincial jurisdiction,” Bowman said.

The provincial government contributed a grant for the study, but once again, disagrees with the findings.

“Our premier has been very clear, there really is no such thing as a safe methamphetamine consumption site,” Health Minister Cameron Friesen said.

Vancouver opened the first safe consumption site in Canada back in 2003. Since then, there have been more than 3.6 million visits, and staff have reversed more than 6,400 overdoses. Calgary opened its first permanent site in 2017 and Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal each have four.