Winnipeg running low on life-saving drug Naloxone

MP Leah Gazan says a shortage of Naloxone in Manitoba is costing lives and the Winnipeg Centre MP is joining with harm reduction advocates to call on the federal government to take action to ensure there’s enough of the drug in the province.

Naloxone: It’s a life-saving drug in short supply in Manitoba. And now, a Manitoba politician is calling on the federal government to take action, as the low supply of Naloxone is costing peoples’ lives.

Earlier Thursday, against a backdrop of community organizations and members of the provincial NDP, Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan called on the federal government to get Naloxone flowing to Manitoba, saying organizations and the public are in need of the life-saving drug.

“Our community is not going anywhere. We are going to gather more and more people, in critical mass, until all levels of government take a public health response to the overdose crisis,” said Gazan.

“People are losing their lives. We are demanding action today.”

The call for increased naloxone supply in Manitoba is part of a larger ask from both community and opposition for governments to take a public health approach to the overdose crisis, saying if the provincial government will not act, the federal government must step in as drug-toxicity deaths in Manitoba reach record highs.

Davey F. Cole with Sunshine House, which operates mobile harm reduction services in the city, says the situation is getting dire, and if it wasn’t for community supporting community, more people would be dead.

Cole says a survey conducted by Sunshine House of service providers found overdoses are requiring more and more naloxone, creating greater demand.

“It came to about to about an average of seven, so for us though, our numbers are much higher. We’ve been seeing a few ODs in the last month, and the last one, it took 21 doses for that person to come back,” said Cole.

The shortage of Naloxone is just one issue community members have flagged to government, as they’ve also been sounding the alarm about the need for safe supply, a supervised consumption site and drug-testing facility, none of which exist in Manitoba.

In a statement the Government of Manitoba claims there is “no shortage of naloxone itself” but there was a supply chain issue that delayed some orders. The province says it received and distributed 2,000 kits last week and 1,000 of an additional 10,000 kits have arrived and are now being applied to orders, with the remaining 9,000 kits expected to arrive early next week when supply issues are resolved.

However, some members of the opposition NDP accused the government of lying, with other community organizations saying the province’s messaging does not match the reality of the situation.

For people like Megan Michell, an outreach worker with the West Central Women’s Resource Centre, she says the situation will be one of tragic loss unless it changes immediately, saying an “endless” supply is needed.

“My family members are going to be gone, it’s not only my community members, but it’s also my physical relatives that are going to be gone, so we need to be heard, and we need more.”

Some Naloxone being used by frontline organizations like the Bear Clan Patrol in Winnipeg are kits sent to Manitoba from other provinces, the kits they have on-site currently coming from B.C. where there is no shortage.

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