Alliance’s business plan includes proposal for addictions facility

Winnipeg’s Community Wellness and Public Safety Alliance – a group made up of business leaders, health officials, firefighters and police officers – has commissioned a 141-page business plan which includes a proposal for a new facility to help combat addictions.

True North Sports and Entertainment executive chairman Mark Chipman spoke about the alliance’s efforts Friday afternoon at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon in front of a crowd of local business people.

“My role in it, frankly, was just trying to organize all of that thinking, that frontline experience in developing a new plan,” said Chipman during a fireside chat with TSN’s Dennis Beak. “We did that.

“That lead to the development of a business plan that we worked very hard and long on over a couple of years and we presented it to government and I’m pleased it’s informing some policy now.”

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Deputy Chief Christian Schmidt confirmed the plan includes a proposal for an addictions facility. 

“The business plan talked about a facility – a capital cost of, I believe it was $39 million and ongoing operating of 20 (million),” Schmidt told reporters. “That’s the estimates that the consultant came up with for the business plan.”

Schmidt said securing funding, finding a location and working on agreements with government are among the next steps in the process.

“The business plan refers to a specific location, however, one of the things that needs to be looked at any time you’re going to decide on a location for a facility… we would need to look at all the data,” said Schmidt. “So when I say a data-driven decision, all of the service providers in the area that are providing services – police, fire, paramedic, regional health authority, shared health – we all need to take a hard look at the data and see where that client base is. What are the postal code areas that our core services are being delivered in – that would be where the focus should be.”

He said the facility would be complimentary to the Main Street Project expansion.

“There’s absolutely room for partnerships,” said Schmidt.

 Chipman acknowledged there’s still more work to do.

“We’ve got to shift our perspective from one of law enforcement and justice to one of health care on this matter,” said Chipman. “If we can do that and look at this through a health lens and create the proper facility that has the full continuum of services to help the people that need it most in our community, then we make some headway and I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t.”

In an emailed Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the government’s Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan incorporates several recommendations made in the Alliance plan.

“For instance, our plan moves various Alliance ideas forward, including the establishment of an acute medical sobering unit and a drop-in centre,” said Friesen. “We recognize that time is of the essence when it comes to this issue. There is no time to wait. We will be updating Manitobans shortly on the rollout of these significant investments.