News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

August 3, 2023

Manitoba Government Enters New Five-Year Funding Agreement with Justice Canada to Strengthen Drug Treatment Court Program

The Manitoba government is signing a new five-year funding agreement with Justice Canada to further support the Winnipeg drug treatment court program with $800,000 a year in funding, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.

“The alternative sentencing model of drug treatment courts not only facilitates budget savings by diverting offenders from traditional correctional facilities, but also effectively addresses substance use disorders and contributes to safer, more resilient communities,” said Goertzen. “The drug treatment court has proven to be a vital tool in our ongoing efforts to combat drug addiction and its associated criminal behaviours. This funding allows us to significantly enhance our existing programs, provide essential support services, and potentially expand our reach to help more Manitobans, especially in the northern regions.”

Since its inception in 2005 under the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, and subsequent transfer to Manitoba Justice in 2015, the drug treatment court has played a pivotal role in breaking the cycle of drug use, criminal behaviour, and incarceration among non-violent offenders struggling with addiction. The program adopts a collaborative approach involving justice, treatment agencies and community partners to create an environment conducive to recovery and rehabilitation.

“For close to 20 years, the drug treatment court has operated as one of several specialty courts of the provincial court of Manitoba. Presided over by a dedicated group of provincial court judges and working closely with dedicated community partners, the drug treatment court uses a restorative justice approach focused on enhancing rehabilitation and reducing recidivism for offenders struggling with drug addictions,” said Chief Judge Ryan Rolston. “The court welcomes the announcement of a new funding agreement and the associated resources to meet the increasing demand for the drug treatment court. Our court looks forward to supporting additional participants and particularly welcomes the prospect of expanding the geographic reach of the drug treatment court.”

The drug treatment court program provides tailored treatment and intervention to offenders whose criminal actions have been driven by substance addiction. The 12 to 18 month program involves participants progressing through various levels of programming, with the starting level determined by their individual circumstances and recovery progress upon entering the program.

An evaluation of the program conducted in 2022 revealed an impressive zero reconviction rate for recent graduates, highlighting the program's effectiveness in reducing recidivism and facilitating positive outcomes for participants. Since its inception, 144 individuals have successfully graduated from the program, avoiding lengthy incarceration and benefiting from short terms of probation or a stay of proceedings.

With this increased funding, the program is expected to accommodate an additional 20 to 30 participants annually, paving the way for enhanced drug screening, counseling, treatment services, and case management. Moreover, program staff will be better equipped to handle an increased client load, as the number of staff positions has already grown to six at present from three in 2015.

The Drug Treatment Court Funding program is part of the Department of Justice Canada’s treatment action plan of the National Anti-Drug Strategy. The program's objectives align perfectly with Manitoba Justice’s Criminal Justice System Modernization Strategy which aims to reduce crime, prevent individuals from entering the justice system, restore effective justice options, and provide essential support to offenders to prevent re-contact with the criminal justice system.

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