Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, all, for coming. This is very valuable testimony. I'm so grateful everyone could come, in particular our guests from the Prairies. Thank you for coming here. It's cold and snowy here, so you'd feel at home, had you made it here.
Mayor Bowman, Chief Smyth, Chief Lane, thank you for your perspectives. As you know, I spent 20 years as an emergency physician in Winnipeg. I'm familiar with a lot of these problems. Interestingly enough, when I left the practice of emergency medicine three years ago, I had never seen an acute methamphetamine intoxication. It was around—I knew what it was, people gave a history of it—but certainly from the Winnipeg perspective, talking to my colleagues now, this problem has exploded in the last three years from something I'd never seen to a daily occurrence.
Mayor Bowman, I was pleased to be able to meet with you when you met with the Manitoba caucus regarding the task force we discussed on methamphetamine and illicit drugs. One of the issues that has come up—and this was talked about in our meetings discussing opioids, and was brought up by a witness in one of our recent meetings on this—is the issue of harm reduction. We had very clear testimony that harm reduction and safe consumption sites would be beneficial to this for a number of reasons. That testimony will be available in the briefs.
We do know that, to date, the provincial government of Manitoba has been very resistant to safe consumption sites. They even had a draft report of their mental health and addictions strategy that initially said to increase capacity for harm reduction services, including a safe injection site in Winnipeg. This was removed in the final draft to the public.
Mayor Bowman, has there been any recent dialogue with the provincial government on this topic? Are they starting to have a different view, or are they still keeping this line that this is something that is not a suitable fit for Winnipeg?