Mobile treatment units were part of the province's announcement on Tuesday that's providing over $12 million for 1000 addiction treatment recovery spaces, which amounts to seven beds, to communities throughout the province, including Portage la Prairie. Those mobile units have raised a concern.
Portage MLA Ian Wishart says the federal legislation that's currently in place allows an exemption for any given person to operate a safe injection site that doesn't have enough requirements to make it as safe as it should be.
"There's no oversight whatsoever from the provincial authority," says Wishart. "So, we introduced the bill, the Addiction Services Act, to put some regulations around that to make sure that the people that are being treated in this way are complying with quality standards to put in place. It's to ensure they're registering their clients so that we know who they are, and we can do follow-up through Manitoba Health, and direct them into addictions treatment programs, as well."
He says it's basically an unregulated part of the system that allows federal exemptions.
"They've done them here, they've done them in BC, and, I think, Alberta, as well," says Wishart. "We're wanting to make sure that we have rules in place to make sure that all of the public is protected, including the addicts during the treatment process."
Wishart stresses they are mobile sites in the form of vans that provide treatment to addicts who bring their own drugs under supervised treatment.
"They make sure that they don't overdose or something goes wrong. They have, of course, the ability to call paramedics," explains Wishart. "But we would like more regulation than that. The rules aren't all written. Regulations have to be developed for this. This is sort of a new area, not only for us but for all of the provinces. We want to make sure that we get this right and that people are protected in the process."
He says, while this is taking place, they are moving ahead to create additional addictions treatment sites.
"We were in Portage yesterday (Tuesday) for the announcement about creating some high-level treatment that is involved with health at the detox end -- the first step in the process. Then, of course, we're doing call-for-proposals for additional sites for a total of 1000 to get people into treatment as quickly as possible."
Wishart says they're currently moving forward on developing the regulations, and the bill has to go through the three-reading process at the legislature.
"It was read for the first time, so it could go quite a little while before it's in place," notes Wishart. "But we're moving forward as quickly as we can on this. We see it as a bit of a gap in the safety and security for Manitobans, and we want to deal with that."
He explains federal and provincial laws work together and don't always overlap on all necessary points, so this resolves that loophole.