Tuesday, August 27, 2019

MP Ouellette says 800 Adele is ideal for proposed meth detox facility

The Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre has said he's willing to go to bat with his federal counterparts to help restore an existing health care facility in his riding to public use, and take advantage of its existing capacity for 10 or more meth stabilization and detox beds and ample room to housing other services, to help save lives sooner.
 Robert-Falcon Ouellette swung his support behind a drug stabilization unit proposal that started to evolve after my profiles of the success of Morberg House, a residential meth treatment program initiated by St. Boniface Street Links. 

Those stories led to the director, Marion Willis, being invited to see the amenities of the now-empty building at 800 Adele, about 6 blocks from the Health Sciences Centre. 

This past winter the Progressive Conservative government decided to terminate a 20 year contract with the building owners, and ordered the social services agency operating inside to pack up and leave. That dispute is now headed to court, leaving the Class A facility in limbo.

Willis went to the site and determined the facility could be "a centre of excellence for meth treatment and education" with Morberg House working in conjunction with other local addiction services, including the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and the Main Street Project.    
"People know of the issues that we're facing, the security issues and I was talking about that with the West End Biz, the Downtown Biz, we were talking about security issues today, about how we can work together", Ouellette said Friday outside of 800 Adele. 

"But this could be one of the arrows - among many others that we could be using -  in order to get more people into treatment. Because we know there is a lack of beds we could actually be making sure this place is filled up so people can obtain the treatment that they need ... the treatment that leads to long term success."

"Obviously we need partners at the provincial level to do that", the Liberal MP said, "and I'm willing and ready to have discussions with the Health Minister at the Federal level to see what we can do to get more dollars"

In conjunction with a provincial plan that could coordinate aspects like "police, the detox ... harm reduction with needles (being a problem) and also the education component ... there's a lot going on and this is going to be part of it."

 Ouellette was the federal appointee to a tripartate Illicit Drug Task Force this winter that made over twenty recommendations, many of which sought to address methamphetamine use, in addition to opioids and other illicit drugs. The task force reported the need for more medical withdrawal and detoxification centres is immediate.
Statistics from the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba said that between 2014 and 2017, the number of meth users rose 48% among youths and 104% among adults. The average age of a youth using meth is 16 and 81% of their reported cases are girls. Ouellette noted in our interview that AFM "has very long wait times, much longer than a what we have in other parts of the country"

He was a member of the Commons Standing Committee on Health when they met with recovering meth addicts at Morberg House in April and heard firsthand accounts of the depths of the meth crisis and the difficult path from despair to recovery. 

In Committee, Ouelette remarked  "In Winnipeg we know we have a lot of issues in the health care department, the emergency wards, people who are in addictions and security issues for staff who are being hurt.

This week the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives announced a plan to spend up to $7M at Health Sciences Centre "to create 12 new treatment and waiting spaces for people addicted to methamphetamines if the party is re-elected next month." That plan would specifically deliver patients to HSC presenting the dangerous effects of meth psychosis that Ouellette described

Meanwhile, the government will continue to pay approx. $35,000 in rent for 800 Adele while the secure detox unit sits unused, resulting in a dollar-for-value quotient of zero for taxpayers.

The NDP has proposed grouping various addiction treatment facilities near Main St. and Logan Ave. for approx. $4.5M in operating and capital costs.

Earlier in August Manitoba Liberal leader Dougald Lamont was first within the political class to talk about finding a way to reopen the mothballed secure bed units and get 800 Adele into the treatment and recovery regime. 

At an election town hall organized by Street Links last week Willis beseeched the candidates to look beyond the legal dispute the government has provoked with the building's owners. 
"What this city needs most has been sitting since February empty, locked up, within walking distance of Health Sciences Centre."
(Video from the panel is at 

In response, Lamont reiterated his belief that "If it's suitable, that should be the place it goes." 

NDP representative Laurissa Sims assured the audience her leader Wab Kinew would welcome a conversation about the functionality and potential use of 800 Adele. 

Green Party leader James Beddome, going head to head with Kinew for the seat in Fort Rouge, stated "it makes complete sense to put a facility there." and asked a resonating question: 

"We're in a crisis so why aren't we doing something?"
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Here's where we usual pitch to try to earn your financial support for the independent reporting presented on this blog.

Questions about the government paying rent on the vacant 800 Adele building (and the failed WRHA "harm reduction" needle exchange program) are being exclusively reported on by TGCTS. 

Politicians can be forced to go off script and address YOUR issues. 

That's what citizen journalism does.

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