A Winnipeg woman who lost her son in a random, meth-fueled home invasion last winter is calling on party leaders running in the 2019 provincial election to crack down on the current drug crisis gripping Manitoba.
Pictures on Jamie Adao Jr., or Jimboy as his family called him, are hard to miss at his parents’ bakery in Winnipeg. The teen can be seen smiling in photos behind the counter, on shelves and at his mom’s desk.
“I like to be surrounded by his pictures because we can feel that he’s here with us,” Jamie Jr.’s mom, Imelda Adao said. “Sometimes we are talking to him just like I am crazy but that’s the only way I can feel that it will ease some pain in our hearts.”
Jaime Jr., 17, was home with his grandmother in March when a 29-year-old man, believed to be high on meth, broke in and began attacking him.
When police arrived, they shot the intruder several times to stop the attack. The suspect survived, but Jaime Jr. didn’t.
“That’s the worst time in our life,” Imelda said. “My son was there studying very safely with my mom.”
Ronald Chubb was charged with second-degree murder in connection with Adao’s death. Weeks later police charged a second man, Geordie Delmar James, 34, as he is believed to have been inside the home during the attack.
Both men already had lengthy criminal records.
Chubb’s record includes 11 break-and-enter convictions, and James’ includes at least 14 convictions of theft, assault, and assault with a weapon, among others.
Imelda believes criminals aren’t afraid of punishment.
“They have a short sentence and when they are in jail they have good life, so what’s the point?” Imelda asked. “They’re not scared anymore on getting punished.”
The Winnipeg Police Association agrees.
“There has to be a deterrent for that kind of behavior and without that deterrent it’s a laugh,” vice president George Van Mackelbergh said.
Van Mackelbergh said he believes the province needs a facility to stabilize people under the influence, where trained professionals can look after them which would then free up police to attend to more calls.
“That would be one small thing that would make a tremendous difference.”
Winnipeg’s crime index is up ten per cent year-over-year, compared to the rate of 1.9 per cent across the country, and is the highest in the country, according to Statistics Canada’s annual crime severity index.
The violent crime index for Winnipeg also went up four per cent in 2018 compared to 2017. Manitoba is also the highest in homicide rates for provinces, with 55 homicides in 2018 and a rating of 4.07. In the territories, percentage ratings are significantly higher due to much smaller populations.
“You live in one of the most violent, if not the most violent city in in the country,” Van Mackelbergh said. “Is that acceptable? I don’t think it’s acceptable.”
The Manitoba Liberals have promised drug stabilization units as part of its meth and addictions plan. A spokesperson told Global News they would be staffed by medical professionals and trained security staff to help those in need, rather than being staffed by police.
The party said it believes people with addictions should be treated with mental health services and people who have committed serious crimes should be treated in the justice system.
“If we are helping those in a vulnerable state that need help, we can ease stress and capacity in the justice system,” a spokesperson said in an email.
The NDP referred Global News to a meth action plan announcement it made just before the campaign officially started.
The NDP said its plan, which includes drug stabilization units, “provides a comprehensive, integrated response model to help meth users access treatment while relieving pressures on other systems like health care, police, and first responders.”
The Progressive Conservative Party repeated its ‘Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan’ which focuses on treatment, education and enforcement to address the meth crisis.
Its plan also includes a medical sobering unit, which the party promises will treat between 20 and 30 patients at a time.
“We want people not only to be safer, but also to feel safer,” a spokesperson said.
The Manitoba provincial election is Sept. 10.