The province made a huge announcement today in Portage la Prairie at City Hall of more than $12 million in funding that's being dedicated to support for 1000 Addictions Treatment Spaces. Their purpose is to bring about more timely and effective recovery. 

$1 million is going toward maximizing the capacity of existing community addictions treatment agencies, $2.64 million for adding new rural medical withdrawal management spaces, and $8.8 million to secure new publicly funded treatment spaces.

Regional Lead-Community & Continuing Care, Southern Health-Santé Sud Dana Human says one bed for detox treatment will be placed in the current Portage la Prairie District General Hospital. 

"Later on in the future, when we are happy to open the new doors of the new hospital, the bed, of course, we'll then move to the new hospital. There are always opportunities if that's successful, and we can expand. The planning is still in the works for that and we just want to be able to establish what we can right now with what we have, and we're just very thrilled about this announcement today for Portage. I'm very, very grateful for this." 

The single bed is one of seven, coming with another mobile withdrawal support that will be available throughout Portage. She notes that's one of the seven beds the announcement included to cover the 1000 spaces. 

"We're in the planning stages right now and working in collaboration, of course, with our Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine (RAAM) team at the RAAM clinic here in Portage. So, we're all connected and, hopefully, we can make the best out of this. We are very hopeful due to the fact that the RAAM Clinic has been such a smooth transition in Portage and well-utilized. We've been very, very thrilled with the performance that our staff has placed at our Portage RAAM Clinic to create such a welcoming and warm environment. We've heard a lot of great feedback. So, I can't stop smiling. I'm so thrilled about this."

Mayor Sharilyn Knox adds, "We are thrilled to be part of this announcement today and that the community of Portage la Prairie was included. It's one step forward for people with addiction treatment. It often came up during our election of how we need more of these supports."

Mental Health and Community Wellness Minister Janice Morley-Lecomte made the actual announcement. She explains the part in which Portage la Prairie is a recipient, involving two beds.

"One is with the Mobile Withdrawal Services," says Morley-Lecomte. "It's so that individuals are able to take access through the medical team at the hospital. And the mobile withdrawal medical services are set for individuals who are able to take the seven to ten-day detox within their home and their environment -- their comfort. It kind of gives them a sense of how they are and what they're doing with immediate reactions to their environment. So, both are really good and it should alleviate some of the pressures. I know there's more we can always do, but this is a great start."

Association of Manitoba Municipalities president Kam Blight adds the announcement is going a long way in providing help to the people who need it most.

"We're very pleased with the province that made this announcement. We tour across the province of Manitoba, myself and the executive and the district directors, and then some staff. Something that we hear quite often is the increase in mental health and addictions that's impacting all municipalities across Manitoba, especially since the pandemic, and includes the inflationary pressures that stress everybody in everyday lives. This is great because, too often, we hear there are individuals that want help. They want to go get help, but it's not available to them. And so, it's nice to see that there's going to be more resources available to these individuals to get the help that they need."

Portage la Prairie MLA Ian Wishart says it's great news that includes Portage, and it involves more of the high-end treatment.

"We've had a RAAM clinic here for several years and I know it's a busy place doing a lot of good work," explains Wishart. "This is good news to have. We didn't have that much of this treatment at all in rural areas. And now, of course, we're fortunate to have it here.  In association with the RAAM clinic, it's just the rational first step for those that are really in need of detox. And then it filters down from there. And as the Minister has talked about, regarding the additional 1000 spots that we're looking to have available in treatment, the call for proposals is out on that right now. We certainly hope to see more of that in rural Manitoba, as well."

Lee Price lives in Portage and knows firsthand what it is to suffer addiction, and was there to share his thanks for the announcement.

"It means a lot," says Price. "To me, not only did I try to go treatment more than once, but the waits were what really scared me before I went to treatment. And, hopefully, this provides people with less chance to wait -- less chance to change their minds -- less chance to think they can do it on their own."

He notes waiting time is the worst element in trying to get addictions treatment. He explains people can wait for two or three days and think they can handle the problem on their own when they really can't.