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Rural health facilities in Steinbach, Portage la Prairie and Winkler will be part of a provincial review of security and safety for patients, staff and visitors at health centres. Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced the effort last week in response to increasing incidents such as people who are on high on drugs and showing up at emergency rooms in a highly agitated state. He adds while these issues are more common in cities like Winnipeg and Brandon, rural hospitals are not immune to them.

"This is also an issue for rural facilities. It's not just an examination of urban facilities. We know that in some facilities in Manitoba there is no provision for security. There is no good rationale to that so we're looking to find out; What is currently the state of play when it comes to security? What do other jurisdictions do? What should we be doing here?"

Friesen says this process and future plans will take into account that not all facilities are the same, with significant differences between urban and rural hospitals.

"We will be sensitive to the fact that not all of our facilities look the same. At the end of the day, we will be mindful of what that inventory says."

Friesen says he wants a security plan in place as soon as possible.

"I'm attaching urgency to this work. We know that these are live issues right now. We know that Manitobans expect that their government is undertaking to keep them safe in facilities. So I am saying, let's get to it."

The Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach, Boundary Trails Health Centre, Portage and District Hospital and Eden Mental Health Centre in Winkler will all be included in the safety and security review.

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