Manitoba funds projects to help homeless people, but no word on safe consumption site

By The Canadian Press

The Manitoba government promised more money to reduce homelessness Thursday but remained noncommittal on calls for a safe consumption site for people struggling with addiction.

The government announced new or additional funding for several community groups, including a recently opened 24-hour warming centre in Winnipeg and a non-profit group that helps people move into stable housing.

“We are ensuring that people can have access to assistance and move from the streets into community-based supports and resources that they need,” Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said.

Another group will receive money to offer housing to women fleeing violence. The rent will be capped at 30 per cent of a person’s income.

“Our housing project will include 16 units? that are specifically geared for women and gender-diverse people who have been victims of gender-based violence,” said Lorie English, executive director of the West Central Women’s Resource Centre.

Other projects Thursday had been previously announced, such as $500,000 for small-sized homes for veterans in the east part of Winnipeg.

The Progressive Conservative government continued to be ambiguous about the idea of a safe consumption site. The City of Winnipeg has long called for one and former premier Brian Pallister had indicated strong opposition to the idea.

But earlier this year, Sarah Guillemard, the minister for mental health, appeared to open the door to the proposal. She said safe consumption sites could be a tool in the fight to reduce addiction.

Families Minister Rochelle Squires was asked repeatedly Thursday whether the government is actively considering the idea. She did not directly respond.

“There are many options that we’re looking at in Manitoba right now to keep people safe,” Squires said.

“It is a very complex problem and it’s going to require a complex solution. And our government is committed to finding that complex solution and I can assure you that it will take many, many variations and shapes.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2022

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