WINNIPEG — It’s often a last resort for many Winnipeggers dealing with drug and alcohol issues. However,Global News has learned the “Intoxicated Persons Detention Area” at the Main Street Project (MSP) is facing partial closures.
READ MORE: How the WRHA plans to cut spending by $80M
The IPDA has 20 holding cells used to provide a temporary space for intoxicated people who police would otherwise have to take to emergency rooms or the remand centre.
The executive director of MSP said the facility has been losing roughly $100,000 a year keeping that portion of the facility open 24/7. A move they feel is not sustainable.
“As a charity we can’t continue to bear the burden of this cost,” executive director Rick Lees said. “If we can’t make progress in the next month, my board has made it clear to me that we cannot go into another budget year running a deficit in that program.”
Lees said this was not a funding cut but the organization has consistently needed that extra $100,000 per year to sustain intake levels. The organization said it would be forced to close the IPDA during the daytime to allow it to continue to operate during peak overnight hours.
“We do 11,500 intakes (per year), that’s pretty consistent,” Lees said. “We know that 20 per cent is during our daytime shifts, with the other 80 per cent happening at night. If this facility wasn’t available, many of those clients find their way to emergency rooms where they seek help.”
A potential problem after the province recently announced the closure of three emergency rooms.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it cannot comment on a “potential” closure and what that would mean for ER’s.
Main Street Project has already started restructuring its staff of nearly 120 people, a move it claims is not due to any funding cuts but for efficiency and to provide better care.
“We’ve recognized that with the increase in fentanyl and some pretty scary drugs, we need to up our game around staff skill sets,” Lees said. “We are restructuring and building a new class of staff around case managers where everyone who comes to MSP will have access to case management who stay and follow them through the system.”
Regardless, the MGEU, the union that represents those workers, said its concerned with the layoffs. Michelle Gawronsky, the union president, said at least nine members have already received layoff notices within the past 48 hours.
While MSP acknowledged there have been layoffs, Lees said the restructure is needed due to a changing and complicated client base.
“MSP has grown over the years to have multiple programs where clients access at different entry points. That can be dangerous if we don’t have the full history of the client,” Lees said. “Out of the 120 employees we’ve been able to narrow (the cuts) down to under 10 positions.”