Manitoba is spending at least $625,000 in three initiatives to help combat addiction and reduce overdoses, Premier Heather Stefanson and Mental Health and Community Wellness Minister Sarah Guillemard announced Tuesday.
“Mental health and addictions issues and demands for services are an ongoing challenge throughout Manitoba and Canada,” said Stefanson.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased system pressures and the need for mental health and addictions services has grown significantly. These harm-reduction initiatives are focused on addressing those needs and helping make our communities safe.”
The money is being split between the St. Boniface Street Links, an expansion of the province’s free Take-Home Naloxone Kit Program and to support a new pilot project that improves access to Narcan, an intranasal version of naloxone.
The St. Boniface Street Links Outreach and Supportive Intervention for People Who Use Substances (OASIS) Mobile Outreach Project will receive $215,000.
The organization also operates Morberg House, a 12-bed transitional residence for men experiencing harm related to substance use, homelessness and mental health challenges.
“There is an urgent need to increase access to recovery supports in Winnipeg,” said Marion Willis, founder and executive director of St. Boniface Street Links.
“The Manitoba funding allows Morberg House to expand services to include recovery supports to women.”
The province’s free Take-Home Naloxone Kit Program will be receiving $210,000 and also includes injectable naloxone and training materials.
“Improving access to naloxone is a critical step in reducing serious outcomes and deaths related to opioid toxicity,” said Stefanson. “The expansion of this program helps to address the ever-increasing demand for this life-saving drug.”
The pilot program supporting access to Narcan will be getting $200,000 to allow people at risk of opioid toxicity and overdoses to receive Narcan from participating pharmacies at a significantly reduced price.
The kits will be priced at $30 each for families, while the average price is about $165 to $215.
“This pilot project builds on what we have heard from advocacy groups and community organizations calling for increased access to Narcan,” said Guillemard.