News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

September 11, 2020


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Expanding Drop-In Capacity to Connect People with Recovery Option, Reduces Need for Police Calls, Emergency Department Visits: Ministers

The Manitoba government is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to create community drop-in space for adults with addictions and mental health issues to ensure services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Winnipeg, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen and Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.
“There are organizations that provide supportive environments for individuals with mental health and addictions issues, but very few are able to stay open for 24 hours. This gap can lead to unnecessary emergency department visits,” said Friesen. “By closing the gap and expanding access to community drop-in space for people over the age of 18 with addictions and mental health issues, we are providing a safe place to rest or participate in recreational activities while providing appropriate care and resources.”
A tendering process will be undertaken to award at least one existing community health organization in an urban and high-need area with annual funding to expand its drop-in capacity. Individuals using substances who do not require hospitalization will be able to go to the 24-7 community drop-in space as an alternative to remaining on the streets. This is expected to reduce the likelihood of police involvement, unneeded emergency department visits and other harmful situations, such as violence and injury.
“We know that police and emergency department providers are being asked to support people with mental health and addiction issues, but this is not always the best way for individuals to get connected with other resources,” said Cullen. “Expanding services and ensuring staff with the right skills are in place to help people in their time of need will ensure our community has the right care in the right place at the right time.”
The RFP, to be issued today, notes the need for the organization to hire and train peer support workers and others with experience in serving people with mental health and addictions issues. It is expected the space will be welcoming and non-stigmatizing while providing clients support to access other health and social services.
It is also expected the expansion of drop-in services will complement a number of recent initiatives launched by the Manitoba government including:
the creation of six additional beds at HSC Winnipeg for patients with severe alcohol or drug intoxication, along with additional mental health, addictions and security staff within its emergency department;
the opening of women’s treatment beds at AFM Winnipeg and the Behavioural Health Foundation, as well as flexible-length withdrawal beds in Winnipeg and Brandon that are suitable for those with a meth addiction; and
the creation of 70 supportive recovery housing units, giving those recovering from addiction access to stable housing and a safe place to live as they transition back into their lives. 
“This investment builds on the strong partnerships we have forged with the exceptional community organizations who provide health and social support services to vulnerable individuals in Winnipeg,” said Sharon Kuropatwa, regional director for housing, supports and service integration, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. “We are happy to offer this opportunity to provide enhanced resources to support the important work of these community agencies. This investment will help further develop a network that is meant to ensure people with mental health and addictions issues have the supports they need to regain their lives.”  
The ministers noted the province’s Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan outlines the development of new recovery and drop-in centres. In addition, the investment will address a direct recommendation in the Illicit Drug Task Force Report and aligns with harm reduction recommendations in the VIRGO mental health and addictions strategy report. 
The Manitoba government has invested more than $42 million in new or expanded mental health and addictions services or programs since last fall, Friesen noted.
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