‘A humanitarian and health crisis’: St. Boniface Street Links among Manitoba projects receiving $2.5 million in federal funding

WINNIPEG –

Manitoba harm reduction projects will be receiving $2.5 million in funding from the federal government.

“Lives are at stake, and we must do everything we can to protect the health and safety of all Canadians,” said Dan Vandal, Minister for Prairies Economic Development Canada.

According to Vandal, there were 407 deaths in Manitoba due to illicit substances last year, up from 370 in 2020.

“We all know one death is too many,” he said.

“By scaling up prevention, harm reduction and the treatment efforts, projects funded through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program will help people at risk of experiencing substance-related harms as well as overdose.”

Vandal made the funding announcement Monday at St. Boniface Street Links, which is receiving $300,000 of the funding.

St. Boniface Street Links provides services like counselling and legal aid, as well as an outreach program for those experiencing homelessness.

Marion Willis, the founder and executive director of St. Boniface Street Links, said the funding is the largest the organization has received.

“We’ve really been trying to change how we look at mental health and addiction,” she said. “To be successful, recovery takes time, and there needs to be a care plan.”

St. Boniface Street Links will use the funds to implement their Outreach and Supportive Interventions for Substance Use (OASIS) programming, which provides wraparound supports and individualized care planning to people who are at a heightened risk of substance-related overdoses and face barriers to accessing care in Winnipeg.

Willis said the funds would help St. Boniface Street Links be proactive in assisting those struggling with addiction.

“The pandemic has been overlapping a six-and-a-half-year drug epidemic that has really created a humanitarian and health crisis in this city and province,” said Willis. “Governments and philanthropy willing to resource innovative, high-impact projects like OASIS will see a reduction in loss of life, reduced homelessness, reduced crime and reduced pressure on policing, EMS and hospitals.”

Willis said to date, the organization has helped house 272 people.

“By supporting initiatives like St. Boniface Street Links, we can help Canadians receive the health services and support they need to improve their health and overall quality of life,” said Vandal.

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