REALITY CHECK ON SAFE CONSUMPTION SITES
Winnipeg, MB – Despite Brian Pallister’s dangerous fearmongering and inaction, the evidence is clear: safe consumption sites save lives, keep communities safe, support families and connect people suffering from addictions to treatment, recovery and social supports.
We’re hearing from families across Manitoba who have been touched by this crisis – people who have lost loved ones, and those who are seeing its effects in their communities, from needles on playgrounds to broken windows.
Under Pallister crime is going up – there was a 19% increase in the number of property crimes from 2017 to 2018 while violent crime was 18 per cent higher than the average for the previous five years. The Manitoba crime severity index went up by 6%, three times the national average.
Evidence on Safe Consumption Site:
• Connecting People to Treatment: In the year after the first site opened in Vancouver, there was a 33% increase in the use of detox services compared to the year before (Wood, Tyndall, Zhang, Montaner & Kerr, 2007). The Trilateral Illicit Drug Task Force stated safe consumption sites can “serve as pathways to treatment” (pg. 22).
• Addressing Discarded Needles and Public Safety: These sites “reduce public order and safety problems associated with illicit drug use (e.g. public drug use, publicly-discarded syringes)” (Kennedy et al., 2017). In Edmonton “Reports of [discarded] needles have dropped since opening of Edmonton’s supervised consumption sites” (Global, Jan. 30/19). More than 2 million needles were distributed by the WRHA in Winnipeg in 2018.
• Saving Lives: There has never been a single death at a supervised consumption site. In B.C., it’s estimated that up to 4,700 more people would have died without interventions such as supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites (Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC Provincial Health Officer, CBC, April 18/19)
• Reducing Infection Rates: Addressing HIV infection rates was one of the main reasons Insite was founded – Canada’s first safe consumption site. Winnipeg is seeing large increases in cases of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV – all of which are linked to injection drug use (with meth being the predominant drug injected).
• Broad Support for Safe Consumption Sites: Two thirds of Winnipeggers, the City of Winnipeg and the Federal government support a safe consumption site.
Pallister’s inaction is putting Manitobans at risk. The time for action is now and only the Manitoba NDP is committed to fighting the addictions crisis.