Statement in Response to Coun. Jeff Browaty’s Comments on People Who Use Drugs
Repeatedly, we have seen Councillor Jeff Browaty concoct dangerous lines between worthy and unworthy citizens while piling on stigma to Winnipeggers who already experience the worst marginalization and associated health outcomes.
His comments reflect inadequate and misinformed thinking on public policy, community wellbeing, and fiscal responsibility.
Coun. Browaty has repeatedly spoken in favour of criminalizing people who are already marginalized. Yet we know that policing is the most expensive response. In 2020, the Kíkananaw Óma strategy was created by community stakeholders, including the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Police Service. It established call diversion from 911 to 311, allowing the first response to people experiencing homelessness to come from community organizations equipped to support people towards housing, to engage in harm reduction, and also to access basic needs.
This diversion has already achieved cost savings through reduced load on WPS and WFPS. The work of community organizations to support people towards housing has reduced long term load on emergency response.
The people who Coun. Browaty repeatedly uses as political fodder have already experienced massive inequity in access to publicly funded supports, including health and mental health supports, and have experienced systemic violence that is well documented. We know that our systems need to change.
Harm Reduction is unequivocally supported in scientific literature as the best way to support people who use drugs towards better health and the connections that can improve an individual’s life. As we continue to lag on implementing Harm Reduction recommendations fully, we are watching people die tragic, preventable, and unjust deaths.
These are massive challenges that elected officials are responsible for solving. It takes courage, not cowardice to look these challenges in the face, and be useful.
Sunshine House, Inc.
Jamil Mahmood, Main Street Project
Winnipeg Harm Reduction Network
Jonny Mexico, Winnipeg Resident
Laurel Dawn, Share Program
Stephanie Ross, North End Women”s Centre
Kim Bailey, Nine Circles Community Health Clinic
Manitoba Health Coalition
Shohan Illsley, Manitoba Harm Reduction Network
Lorie English, West Central Women’s Resource Centre
Brigitta Perkins, North End Women’s Centre
Arlene Last-Kolb, Moms Stop the Harm & Overdose Awareness Manitoba
Tamara Taillieu, PhD; Instructor II, University of Manitoba; Board Member, Moms Stop the Harm
Janis Gillam, Moms Stop the Harm & Overdose Awareness Manitoba
Kyle Ross, MGEU
Jai Malowski, Peg City Kindness Crew
Manitoba Federation of Labour
Susan Berthiaume, Winnipeg Resident
Stephanie Sanderson, North End Women’s Centre
Melissa Dvorak, Winnipeg Labour Council
K. Daniels, Women’s Health Clinic
Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition (SWWAC)
Antoinette Gravel-Ouellette, Brandon and Area Overdose Awareness
Em Pijl, University of Manitoba
Davey F. Cole, MOPS/Sunshine House Inc.
Jordyn Sheldon, Manitoba Harm Reduction Network
Tieryn Steele, Play it Safer Network-MHRN