The North Star


Overdose deaths in Manitoba

Provincial government prioritizes new “tough on crime” policies

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So far this year Winnipeg has matched it's homocide record of 44 and is on track to break the record of 407 drug overdose deaths. While the average provincial inflation rate is at 7.7% with a minimum wage of $13.50, the Stefanson government has decided to prioritize a 3.2 million dollar police initiative "New Integrated Warrant Unit."

North Star spoke with Daniel of Winnipeg Police Cause Harm, "While violent crime is up 6% above the 5 year average, this is hardly the massive spike that the police are trying to play it off as. It’s also notable that even if it was a massive spike, police budgets have never been higher and they did nothing to prevent any of these incidents."

Drug use and crime rates are increasing as inflation continues to rise. "As things become more expensive it becomes harder for people to meet their basic needs which will cause them to feel the need to resort to other ways to meet those same needs. Inflation, combined with the brutal austerity of the last few decades has left many with a paper-thin safetynet, if any at all."

New integrated warrant unit - 3.2 million (unclear how funds are divided)On Homelessness - 15.1 million (a 9 million increase)On Addictions - 625,000
Violent offender apprehension unit:
- Track and arrest "high-risk" offenders

Bail conditions:
- Intensive supervision
- Increased difficulty

Criminal organization high-risk offender unit:
- Intensive probation program
- Enhanced surveillance and monitoring
The extra 9 million will be divided into the following:
- Transitional housing programs - 4.8 millions
- Shelters - 3.3 millions
- Homeless outreach mentors - 800,000
Will be divided into the following:
- St. Boniface Street Links - 215,000
- Naloxone Kit Program - 210,000
- Narcan Pilot
Project - 200,000

Although the government has allocated 9 million extra dollars for housing, the majority of transitional housing and 24 hour shelters requires an individual to not have used any substances in the last three days. This is a massive barrier to many as there are few detox centres in Winnipeg and drug use is at an all-time high.

Stefanson has been quoted saying, "The most common root causes of crime are homelessness, mental health, and addictions." Despite this, the province is allocating the least amount of funding to support addiction services. "Without harm reduction we can’t expect people to access other supports to help them address their needs, especially when the other main approach is to punish and incarcerate [these] people..." Daniel told North Star.

"It’s not a mystery why these things are happening, but people in power have made it clear that they are not interested in making people’s lives actually better, but instead want to defend the status quo by heavily investing in policing which only perpetuates cycles of poverty, criminalization, and violence."

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