Manitoba’s leaders gather to talk key issues, public safety a high priority

Today in a ministerial forum, the province heard and responded to issues being faced by Manitobans.

Kam Blight, president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) said among the problems raised was public safety, health care, infrastructure, homelessness and funding. But, he said, “public safety and health care probably took up the majority of the conversation.”

Public safety in particular “is a top priority for our association. Not just provincially, but nationally,” he said, adding that conversations are being had to look at what it will take to address it.

“The provincial government has talked about making changes to the provincial bail reform system, which we certainly welcome,” Blight said. Conversations about putting “community safety and wellbeing plans in place, and pursuing community safety officers” is also on the table.

Premier Wab Kinew told 680 CJOB said the fight against crime also necessitates tackling the drug crisis.

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“I’ve directed the attorney general that we have to bring the hammer down on drug traffickers,” he said. “We want to be tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime.”

He cited addiction as being one of the causes of criminal activity, and advocated for helping people struggling with addiction “turn their lives around. But, if you’re somebody who’s trying to get rich off of human suffering, that cannot be tolerated.”

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Kinew said to help address this issue, the government would provide more support for police in the form of increased staffing, but also stitch mental health services into the fabric of law enforcement in an effort to advance prevention.

Adding mental health workers to the justice system “is going to be important,” he said, because “having a mental health (worker) who can deal with the person in crisis is part of the overall comprehensive strategy” to alleviate many of the calls officers receive, and free them up to be proactive rather than reactive.

“They only have the staff to be able to go on a call when it happens,” the premier said. “We’re going to be looking at providing additional resources so that they can be proactive as well: doing investigations to try and prevent crimes, or break up organized crime effectively in different parts of the province.”

He said there will be more information about these measures increasing public safety soon.

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Blight said before the forum there was a meeting between himself, the AMM board and staff, NDP cabinet and premier to outline key priorities, and lay out “recent successes, some critical challenges and others that still need more collaboration.”

From this meeting issues about broadband connectivity and immigration were brought up, in addition to health care concerns.

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