Expert says political courage needed to open safe injection sites in Manitoba

published on May 15, 2018 by The Canadian Press in Times Colonist

WINNIPEG — One of the country’s leading experts says Manitoba needs to find the political will to bring in safe injection sites.

Dr. M.J. Milloy says multiple studies have shown safe consumption sites prevent overdoses, stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and increase public safety by reducing the number of needles on the street.

The epidemiologist with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use and a principal investigator into a five-year evaluation of Vancouver’s first safe injection site, said it’s no longer a scientific question whether sites should be established.

“The question in my mind is not whether Winnipeg needs this facility but whether or not there will be the political will or courage,” Milloy told The Canadian Press on Tuesday in an interview from Mexico City.

A copy of a report commissioned by the Manitoba government on addiction services and provided to the media Monday morning included a recommendation to open a safe injection site in Winnipeg. By the afternoon, the recommendation was deleted in a copy posted by the government online.

Dr. Brian Rush, who wrote the report, said the recommendation was removed in the final draft because he didn’t have enough evidence and data to back it up.

Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen has said the government didn’t interfere with the report. “There simply doesn’t exist the data and evidence in Manitoba” to back up the need for an injection site, he said Wednesday.

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