Implement Safer Consumption Sites for Vulnerable Populations in Winnipeg

Implement Safer Consumption Sites for Vulnerable Populations in Winnipeg

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Meaghan Fallak started this petition to Mayor Brian Bowman and

Addiction and mental health are complex issues and every individual has different needs. A harm reduction model, including safer consumption spaces, recognizes that abstinence is not a realistic solution for everyone living with addiction. It provides an option for individuals to access non-judgemental healthcare and resources. Since the first safer consumption space opened in Alberta in November 2017, there has been a 100% success rate in saving individuals from overdose. In addition, safer consumption sites reduce the risk of blood borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. Safer consumption spaces help to keep people alive and as safe as possible, even if they are not ready or able to stop using drugs (Harper, 2018).

Safer consumption spaces are also cost effective for governments. A 2015 study by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto examined the projected costs of maintaining a safer consumption space over a period of 20 years by examining project costs against the potential reduced contraction of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. The study estimated that operation costs over the 20 years would come to about $33.1 million, but the project would save $42.7 million in health care costs due to anticipated reduction of HIV and Hepatitis C infections, $9.6 million in savings. In addition, a singular site in Toronto would potentially spare 164 people from contracting HIV/AIDS and 459 hepatitis C infections.

There is an obvious need for increased resources for drug users in Winnipeg. The following statistics come from a 2019 report by Wab Kinew, Leader of the Official Opposition for the Government of Manitoba, called "We Must Start Here":

1. Population and Public Health has declared an outbreak of acute Hepatitis B in Winnipeg Health Region “almost exclusively linked to injection drug use”

2. Since 2016 there have been 40 cases of Hepatitis B in WRHA, a “nine fold increase over the past 10 years prior to 2016”

3. “Current data...appears to indicate the recent increase in Hepatitis C is also linked to injection drug use”

4. There is a significant rise in Hepatitis C cases among youth under the age of 25, something that is “unprecedented for Hepatitis C”
5. The current outbreak of syphilis “appears to be associated with the use of crystal methamphetamine”

6. In 2018 “over 250 cases [of syphilis] are projected, the highest number ever recorded in Winnipeg Health Region”
“Alarming increase in congenital syphilis cases in summer 2018”

7. “One case of Hepatitis C costs over $40,000 and one case of HIV costs approximately $1 million to the health system”
128 new cases of HIV in 2016; 21% increase in HIV cases in 2018

The need for more support services for individuals experiencing addiction is undeniable, and it is in the best interest of all Winnipeggers. Addiction and mental health are clinical issues and should be treated as such. We call on Mayor Brian Bowman and Premier Brian Pallister to support community organizations in providing safer consumption sites in Winnipeg. 

 

 

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