On Thursday May 20, spoke on a resolution calling for more support to better help individuals with addictions in Manitoba. I spoke on this bill and asked a question. Both are below.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I'll try and be quick because of the time. I support the resolution put forward by the MLA for Point Douglas because the resolved section of this resolution which calls for publishing overdose data quickly and investing more resources in mental health and addictions is spot on. This is clearly needed.
At the same time, I do not agree with the statement that Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine clinics don't help anyone. There are problems with RAAM clinics, and I'll talk about those (see my question below), but that statement goes too far and is not accurate.
Simply put, for people with addictions, we need to have them helped right away when they're ready to be helped. And we need to have a seamless process so that they can go from detox through second-step treatment through supporting housing and be helped all the way out of their addictions issues. And many people have gone through traumatic addictions problems and done very well in the future. We need to recognize that.
We do need to address the factors causing addictions, and there needs, clearly, to be more research on this, and including–that research should look at the role of lead exposure which has been shown to increase problems with substance abuse. The government has been delinquent in not looking carefully at this.
There is a relationship to the increased case numbers of people who have died from overdoses and the COVID pandemic. That–but the government should have made those extra investments. It is correct that these problems go back 20 years, but there are clearly not enough resources and not enough improvement in organization.
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): My question is this. I'm hearing about people with addictions going to RAAM clinics and been turned away. I wonder if you are hearing similar stories.
Mrs. Smith: I thank the member for that question, and absolutely, we are hearing the same thing.
Detox beds are held for persons who go into RAAM clinics that want to get into detox. We know that those beds are sitting empty because RAAM clinics aren't effective in getting people into treatment. People have to make appointments to go into treatment, and we know that that doesn't work for people.
The day that somebody decides that they're going to get into treatment or into detox, that needs to be readily available. And people can't be making appointments to, you know, say, oh, next week on Friday, you know, the 28th or whatever the day is–I think it's the 30th–I'm going to–
[It is important to note that the problem of getting addictions help immediately when it is needed was a major problem under the former NDP government as well]