The Manitoba government is providing a $3.6 million grant to an initiative aimed at making downtown Winnipeg safer and more inviting.
On Tuesday, Premier Heather Stefanson, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen and Mental Health Minister Sarah Guillemard announced that the funding is going to the Downtown Community Safety Partnership (DCSP).
“Our community faces significant challenges here in Downtown Winnipeg and it will take a community effort to solve these complex issues,” Stefanson said at a news conference on Thursday.
“I want you to know that our government is committed to working collaboratively with our community partners on the front lines to improve the health and well-being of the most vulnerable in our society.”
The DCSP has a 24/7 presence in Downtown Winnipeg, with its team offering non-emergency response, outreach, and intervention to people experiencing issues in Downtown Winnipeg. The partnership is working to integrate safety services and initiatives, and share skills, experience and technology to the downtown community.
“We meet them where they’re at, at the right time, and connect with the right resources and supports tailored to that individual and their needs,” said Greg Burnett, the organization’s executive director.
The DCSP has created partnerships with groups including Manitoba 211, OPK Manitoba, Mama Bear Clan, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, and the Criti Care Paramedic Academy. It’s also connected with other initiatives such as N’Dinawemak, mental health services and government programs.
The $3.6 million in funding will allow the DCSP to improve the health, safety and well-being of those in downtown Winnipeg by augmenting its three front-line patrol teams.
“There’s not one solution and there’s not one entity that ultimately solves any problem, whether it’s community safety or other problems. It truly takes many people coming together,” Goertzen said.
“The announcement today about continued and enhanced support for the Downtown Community Safety Partnership is a very, very important announcement.”
The DCSP started as a partnership between the Manitoba government, the City of Winnipeg, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, the Winnipeg Police Service, and True North Sports and Entertainment. In April 2020, it was established as a non-profit organization with an initial $5 million investment from the province.
Newly elected mayor Scott Gillingham said the DCSP will play an important role in tackling some of the city’s biggest issues like crime.
“Right now in the city, homelessness, addiction and crime are playing off one another. We just understand that and so today’s announcement is really critical,” said Gillingham.
St. Boniface Street Links also received $215,000 in funding for its Outreach and Supportive Intervention for People Who Use Substances (OASIS) Mobile Outreach Project.
The organization said the funding will let them support more people experiencing homelessness or struggling with substance use and help expand who can access them.
“We can actually put a staff member in and some peer support and actually include women as recipients of our services,” said Marion Willis, St. Boniface Street Link’s executive director and founder.
The province also announced another $210,000 in funding to expand the current take-home naloxone kit program.
It is also spending an additional $200,000 to launch a new pilot project aiming to improve access to Narcan, an intranasal version of opioid-reversing naloxone drug.
The program will let people at risk of opioid overdoses and their family to receive Narcan from participating pharmacies at a significantly reduced price. The province said Narcan kits will be priced at $30 each for families, while the average price is about $165 to $215.
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