Timely access to the number of overdose deaths in the province, as well as the type of drugs being used, is the bill NDP Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, Bernadette Smith introduced April 8.
Smith also pushing for access to these details on the government’s’ website.
“At this point we don’t have the data for 2021, we know up until October of 2020 that there were 259 fatalities due to overdoses,” Smith said. “We don’t know what that drug the overdose was caused by, so we’re calling on this government to be transparent.”
“Manitobans want to know,” Smith said.
Smith noted the bill would ensure that public and medical experts would have access to reliable monthly data on drug overdose deaths, arguing that Manitoba has fallen behind other provinces that publish regular data.
Overdose Awareness Manitoba, a local advocacy group, also noting the provinces lack of transparency on a federal level.
“With Manitoba we’re the only province right now that’s not submitting our data to the opioid and stimulated related harms, they submit data and that goes on to a national level,” Co-Founder of Overdose Awareness Manitoba, Rebecca Rummery said.
The NDP want the Conservative government to provide more resources for people struggling with addictions, noting the pandemic has only made the crisis worse in Manitoba.
“Many families have lost loved ones to overdose deaths in our province,” Smith said in a release. “We know the pandemic has only made the addictions crisis in Manitoba worse, but still the government refuses to act. The first step in addressing the addictions crisis is to publish accurate, up-to-date data that can inform good public health policy and save lives. We need this data to be public so we can hold the government accountable for their inaction and continue to push for stronger supports for families who are struggling with addiction.”
Smith’s goal is to highlight how many people have lost their lives to drug-related overdoses so the government can take a proactive approach, noting currently only the City of Winnipeg is looking into the benefits of having a supervised consumption site.