NDP Call on PC Government to Acknowledge Addictions Crisis and Stop Withholding Data on Overdose Deaths

April 9, 2021

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB— Today Bernadette Smith, NDP Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, introduced a bill that would bring awareness to the severity of the addictions crisis in Manitoba. Smith’s bill would amend the Fatality Inquiries Act to require the province publish the number of drug overdose deaths, as well as the type of drug, on a government website in a timely fashion.

“Many families have lost loved ones to overdose deaths in our province,” said Smith. “We know the pandemic has only made the addictions crisis in Manitoba worse, but still the government refuses to act. The first step in addressing the addictions crisis is to publish accurate, up-to-date data that can inform good public health policy and save lives. We need this data to be public so we can hold the government accountable for their inaction and continue to push for stronger supports for families who are struggling with addiction.”

Smith’s bill would ensure that the public and medical experts have access to reliable monthly data on drug overdose deaths. Manitoba has fallen behind other provinces that publish regular data. According to the Medical Examiners report, in 2019 there were 191 fatal drug overdoes in Manitoba. There are 259 drug overdose deaths for the first 9 months of 2020, but there is no data for the last 3 months of 2020 at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

The introduction of Smith’s bill comes two years and one day after Premier Brian Pallister tossed the Safe Consumption Space Report on the floor of the Legislature. This anniversary is a grim reminder for families of the PC government’s refusal to address the addictions crisis in Manitoba and save lives.