‘Tough on crime’ is not the answer to fixing Winnipeg’s inner-city meth issues: report

While Winnipeg is dealing with poverty and mental health issues, a new report said methamphetamine is not a crisis in the city.

The report, issued by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on Wednesday, said despite widespread addiction to meth in Manitoba, it’s the underlying social issues that aren’t being properly addressed by the province.

“Many community-based organizations (CBOs) working in the inner city, however, see these so-called drug crises as a symptom of larger social crisis rooted in inequality and colonialism,” the report stated. “CBOs are struggling to respond to what, in many ways is seen as a crisis of inaction by government to address these root causes.”

READ MORE: From math teacher to meth user — How one Winnipeg addict fell prey and turned his life around

The 2019 State of the Inner City report finds there is no clear strategy in how the recommendations from the VIRGO report and the Illicit Drug Task Force Report are being implemented.

Story continues below advertisement

The VIRGO report identified several major challenges to Manitoba’s current state, including long waits to access services and limited availability of services in rural and northern communities. The report recommends bringing the level of investment in mental health care to roughly on par with other Canadian jurisdictions, suggesting a gradual increase in funding over three years and an additional two per cent health funding to make up for the funding gap in previous years.

READ MORE: ‘Funding alone will not fix the system’ — Report on Manitoba mental health, addictions

The authors of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report said the province’s “tough on crime” approach doesn’t work to solve the problem.

“High rates of inequality, lower educational outcomes, insecure housing, high child apprehension rates and ongoing impacts of colonization lead people to have fewer protective factors and resources, which creates an environment where people turn to drugs to cope,” the report said.

READ MORE: RCMP raids net largest meth bust in Manitoba history; Calgary Hells Angels member arrested

It also goes on further to state that the city’s “meth crisis is a housing crisis.”

“People are using methamphetamine as a way to stay awake to protect their bodies and their possessions when homeless or living in precarious housing situations,” it said.

The 15th annual report repeats concerns from previous years, citing a lack of reliable long-term financial support for community organizations that are struggling to help marginalized groups in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.

Story continues below advertisement

Crime Wave: Meth in a flawed city

Crime Wave: Meth in a flawed city

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.