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Pallister Cuts Fifty Percent of Staff from Youth Addictions Program

MLA for St. Boniface and Manitoba Liberal Party Leader, Dougald Lamont, says the Pallister government’s decision to cut half of the staff from a youth addictions treatment program is a sign of dysfunction and disconnect on the part of the province in the midst of a meth epidemic.

In the last few months, the Pallister government has eliminated fifty percent of the clinical staff at the Addiction Foundation of Manitoba (AFM’s) Compass Youth Program in Portage la Prairie.

Budget documents show that AFM has faced serious budget cuts under the Pallister government. The budget for addictions has dropped by $1-million compared to four years ago, and mental health has a shortfall of $26.6-million compared to what the government promised earlier this year. This is despite $40-million a year in new funding from the federal government dedicated to homecare and mental health for the next ten years.

“What we’re seeing is a government that is cutting back even as they are promising to act, so at the end of the day, we aren’t any further ahead,” said Lamont. “The deeper problem is that the province is effectively denying proper care to people who need treatment the most.”

Lamont says the Compass program can refuse admission to a young person who has no “family supports,” no “confirmed place of residence upon discharge,” or any involvement in the justice system.

The result is that a young person with an addiction who is involved with Child and Family Services or the justice system can’t get treatment.

“We have too many people who may be detained due to mental health and addictions and they are being treated in jail instead of in a clinic or the health care system,” said Lamont. “This government is not doing enough, especially for young people when intervention can make the biggest difference.”

Compass Admission guidelines

The young person:

• Has consent of legal guardian

• Perceives alcohol or drugs as a primary problem and wants to make changes

• Can participate in and benefit from group-based treatment

• Is willing to participate and follow rules

• Is available for the full program period

• Has family/other supports who will be involved in the program

• Has no legal requirement to attend, current custody order or court date during program stay

• Has a confirmed place of residence upon discharge

• Does not present safety risks for other clients, themselves or staff

• Does not present physical, medical or psychological needs beyond the program’s capacity

• Is not under the influence upon arrival

Media Contact:

Craig Larkins

Director of Communications & Media Relations

Manitoba Liberal Caucus

(204) 771 – 2513

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