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The government of Manitoba made a major announcement about a plan to combat meth abuse throughout the province. Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen made the announcement with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Winnipeg Centre MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette. Here's Friesen:

"If we are to succeed in curbing the use of meth and other substances in our community, it's going to take a collaborated and coordinated response from all levels of government," explains Friesen. "And that's why I'm pleased to announce today the creation of an illicit drug task force that will address and respond to the rapid increase of the distribution and use of methamphetamine and other substances."

He says the task force will involve leaders throughout all walks of life to participate in a working group to determine short and long-term practical recommendations to fight the rise in illicit drugs. Friesen says they will also improve existing programs that help treat those suffering from addictions.

"We look forward to working with our federal and municipal partners to find solutions and build on recent measures that the Manitoba Government has brought forward to address this problem," continues Friesen. "All of us at this table have the same goal: Making Manitoba a better and a safer place to live. The task force will be successful as much as it focuses on that objective."

The co-chairs, in consultation with the oversight committee, will determine members of a working group that will:

identify areas to improve existing programming relating to the prevention, treatment and deterrence of illicit drug use;

identify areas to improve enforcement, such as looking at practices employed in other jurisdictions, and explore Criminal Code changes that could further deter and combat the illicit drug trade;

seek advice from experts including health professionals, social service providers, law enforcement officials, first responders and the legal and academic community;

and provide recommendations on how government can better communicate with the community, the business sector and vulnerable populations on the dangers of illicit drug use.

The task force is expected to produce and publicly release a report in June 2019.

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