The 2019 State of the Inner City report “Forest for the Trees: Reducing Drug and Mental Health Harms in the Inner City” finds that there is no clear strategy in how the recommendations from the VIRGO Report and the Illicit Drug Task Force Report are being implemented. Analysis by University of Winnipeg criminologist Dr. Katharina Maier finds the rhetoric of a meth ‘crisis’ intensifies a law, order, and security response. This is counter to evidence-based approaches, which find that dealing with the conditions of problematic substance use are what is needed.
The research was done in response to Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in the inner city of Winnipeg receiving more requests for help with severe needs and observing behavioural changes in residents relating to meth use. People are arriving at CBOs’ doors in states of emergency, but they have far fewer resources than already-stretched emergency rooms and are struggling to respond.
High rates of inequality, lower educational outcomes, insecure housing, high child apprehension rates and ongoing impacts of colonization lead people to have fewer protective factors and resources, which creates an environment where people turn to drugs to cope. The research finds higher rates of poverty in inner city Winnipeg leads to more severe harms associated with drug use. The report includes research with people with lived experience of drugs living in the inner city. Read full report above.