Pallister PCs vote against extending the ability of police to detain and help intoxicated persons to those on methamphetamine
On Tuesday May 22, my colleague Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Burrows, introduced for second reading Bill 229, the Intoxicated Persons Detention Amendment Act, a bill which would clarify the current legal situation with respect to the ability of police to detain individuals intoxicated by drugs. Currently the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act allows police to detain and help individuals who are intoxicated by alcohol. The situation with respect to the ability of police to detain and help individuals who are intoxicated from taking methamphetamine is less clear. Indeed, we hear that because of this uncertainty, and because of a court ruling that the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act only applies to alcohol intoxication, the police are sometimes in a difficult situation. We understand that sometimes police may follow a person who is intoxicated by methamphetamine until he or she commits a crime so that they can detain and help the person with legal certainty. I have been told of situations where the police have been called to help an individual who is intoxicated with meth, and the police say they can do nothing because they don't have the legal authority to detain the individual. Last year, over the Christmas holidays a woman who was intoxicated with meth came for help at a Winnipeg Emergency Room, but because of the uncertain legal situation she could not be detained and helped when she wanted to leave. She left and was later found dead. Surely we should be able to better help those who are intoxicated by methamphetamine. In the Question Period during the debate on Bill 229, I asked Cindy Lamoureux about this situation. See below (from Hansard).
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, to my colleague.
Around Christmastime there was a young woman who went to Seven Oaks who was intoxicated with meth, and she didn't stay, but she left and she was found dead not long after. It was a very tragic event.
Can you explain how this bill might prevent tragedies like that by being able to detain people?
Ms. Lamoureux: I'd like to thank my colleague from River Heights for the question.
That's a great example of really what is happening and what we are trying to prevent from happening again in the future. We need to be proactive on this. By implementing this bill, it allows health-care professionals as well as our peace officers to have the resources they need to properly work with people and provide people the resources they need in a time of crisis during addictions.
Sadly, when it came time for a vote to move this legislation to committee so it could move forward, be considered, amended if needed, and then be passed into law, the Pallister PCs all voted against Bill 229. As Liberals we were saddened and shocked to see that the Pallister PCs were not concerned enough about this situation, and about helping people methamphetamine toxicity to proceed.