Manitoba’s illicit drug task force named, receives mixed reviews

Three months after a task force to battle Manitoba’s meth crisis was announced, Global News has learned the names of all 14 members.

Last December, the municipal, provincial and federal government revealed its plans to join forces and assemble a group of professionals that would be responsible for finding a solution to the growing meth problem.

Below are the members of the illicit drug task force:

  • Dr. Rob Grierson, WFPS medical director
  • Dr. Michael Isaac, acting chief provincial public health officer
  • Real Cloutier, WRHA president and CEO
  • Kim Nicholson, Winnipeg Police Service strategic affairs manager
  • Insp. Max Waddell, Winnipeg Police Service street crimes division
  • Rick Lees, Main Street Project executive director
  • Damon Johnston, Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg CEO
  • Trevor Myshrall, WFPS advance care paramedic
  • Insp. Rob Lasson, RCMP
  • Kelly Holmes, Resource Assistance for Youth (RAY)
  • Sel Burrows, North Point Douglas chair of the board of directors
  • Greg Burnett, Manitoba Justice
  • Deputy Chief Randy Lewis, Brandon Police Service
  • Eric Costen, Health Canada
  • Story continues below

Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette said all three levels of government contributed to finding members to fill the task force. He believes committee members are experts in a wide range of areas.

‘If we put everyone together in the same room they’re able to work out an action plan about what we should be doing.”

Ouellette said he has already given colleagues in Ottawa, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a heads up that recommendations from the task force will be coming by June.

“I’ve spoken with the Prime Minister about this, about the unique challenges that we’re facing here in Winnipeg to make sure that when the recommendations do come that it doesn’t end up sitting on some shelf and no one doing anything.”

However, critics aren’t expecting much to come of the task force.

Marion Willis, the founder of St. Boniface Street Links, said grassroots organizations like hers have been left out and many members are too far removed from the addicts themselves.

“It’s a very high level committee … it would certainly have political capacity, very high level acumen in terms of understanding their own mandates,” Willis said.

“But they certainly would not have any capacity at all to understand really what is going on in the trenches with the meth population.”

While the task force is scheduled to present an action plan by June, Willis believes any real-world results from the task force won’t be apparent until 2020.

“Quite frankly, in my view, it’s a bit of political window dressing.”

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