During the question period on Bill 36 which deals with aspects of cannabis testing, I asked the Minister responsible what process will be used for roadside testing for cannabis and meth. My questions and the Minister's responses are below:
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, I would ask the minister first to describe what's involved in the physical co-ordination and drug reporting evaluation.
And also I would ask the minister whether it is the government's intention that the levels which he's described be used alone, or would there be a requirement that there be a demonstration of the impact or the effect of the drug on physical co‑ordination or in other respects.
Madam Speaker: The honourable Minister of Finance.
Mr. Cullen: Thank you, Madam Speaker. In terms of the physical co-ordination test or the drug recognition evaluation, those really are tools that police officers will use when they pull over an impaired driver. So they will ask the respective driver to go through either the physical co-ordination test or–police office are now being trained on the drug recognition evaluation to actually recognize drivers that are under the impairment of drugs.
So those are the two roadside tests that police officers will use.
Mr. Gerrard: Yes, I would return to the question which I'd asked but the minister didn't get a chance to respond to, and that is: In doing the evaluation, will the police, first of all, do the drug testing or will the police, first of all, do the physical co-ordination test and the drug recognition evaluation test before proceeding to the drug test only if they find the first one positive?
Mr. Cullen: This will be my understanding, my–how I think it will work.
The officer will have a look at the impaired driver, try to determine whether it may be alcohol or a drug and, hopefully, their training will provide that direction to them. Then they will have the ability–they could either offer a roadside Breathalyzer or they could offer a roadside drug screening test if they had those devices available to them.
If not, they still have the ability, if they suspect the individual is impaired, they could still seek–go directly to either a Breathalyzer within the police station or they could access one of the facilities that would allow actual blood testing–
Mr. Gerrard: One of the things that happens with alcohol tests and Breathalyzers is that the–from time to time, police do screenings. So they stop drivers without there being any evidence of impairment necessarily, and they do the testing.
Is it the plan that this is what the police will do, in terms of screening for cannabis and doing the testing for cannabis levels?
Mr. Cullen: Yes. In fact, ultimately the driver–if they believe the driver is impaired by drugs, ultimately they would have to get a blood test taken. So the police officers have the drug recognition evaluation program available to them. Hopefully, we have a lot of officers trained by this date.
Or, coming soon to police station near you and a patrol car near you will be roadside screening devices, and the police officer will be able to do roadside drug screening for cannabis at that particular time. And, if the impaired individual fails either one of those tests, then the peace officer can take them for the actual blood test–
Mr. Gerrard: I thank the minister for clarifying that he expects that the police will set up roadside screening and that screening would be not just for individuals who can be found to be impaired on the physical co-ordination test, but they would just do routine roadside screening as they do now for alcohol.
I would ask the minister whether meth is adequately covered in this legislation or whether he'll be introducing further amendments to address testing for meth because its use is quite prevalent, as the minister knows, in Manitoba at the moment.
An Honourable Member: We'll certainly leave the–
Madam Speaker: The honourable Minister of Justice.
Mr. Cullen: Thank you, Madam Speaker.
We will certainly leave the enforcement side of it up to the peace officers around the province to do the good work that they do day in and day out. I guess this particular legislation is driven by–because of the cannabis legalization. In terms of the question regarding meth, that may be additional screening and analysis that may have to be required. That's something we'll have to follow up with the member on.
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