Province commits $1.5M to 150-bed warming centre in ‘a start,’ premier says



In what the Prime Minister says it is “a start” to helping Manitoban’s most needy.

The facility at Disraeli Fwy. 190 was born of necessity and is a step forward as the province recognizes the need for more indigenous-run, accessible support spaces to support the people, said Prime Minister Heather Stefanson when announcing the initiative on Friday morning.

“This is a critical time in our province’s history to listen, heal, and bring Manitobans together to build a healthier, stronger future for all Manitobans, especially those most in need,” said Stefanson.

“We heard from you and will take action.”

The prime minister said the $ 1.5 million was “a start” but made no commitment to long-term funding.

“We’ll see,” she said. “And as always, if there is more need, we’ll take a look.”

Stefanson made the announcement locally with Family Secretary Rochelle Squires, Grand Chief of the Congregation of Manitoba Chiefs Arlen Dumas, and End Homelessness Winnipeg CEO Jason Whitford. Two tipis and a holy fire were set up in front of the building and tobacco was shared.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Premier Heather Stefanson announced $ 1.5 million in funding for a 150-bed thermal center that will begin providing day and night shelter to the homeless from December 1 </p ></p>
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<p>MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Prime Minister Heather Stefanson announced $ 1.5 million to fund a 150-bed thermal center to provide day and night accommodation to the homeless from December 1. </p>
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<p>It was important to Dumas that he would “personally acknowledge” the Prime Minister for her words and willingness to meet on the subject.			</p>
<p>“She knows that I am the person who makes sure we all honor our words,” he said, adding that the project is an example of an “innovative” solution that comes from working together.			</p>
<p>“I would very much like to introduce many more of these solutions to our premieres and their team, as well as any other ready partners we have.  Turning off the heat in bus stops is not one of these strategies. Uncomfortable places for people who are literally in a bad situation are not acceptable.  We have to find innovative ways. ”			</p>
<p>In 2019, AMC partnered with End Homelessness Winnipeg in an attempt to understand how many Indigenous people in Manitoba are homeless inside and outside the reserve and what brought them there.			</p>
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Whitford, who worked for AMC for many years, pointed to the complex roots of homelessness and said the organization has found that about half of Winnipeggers currently homeless are in the child welfare system.

“It’s a sad state of affairs,” he said. “This initiative was born out of necessity. There is still a lot to be done in this area. There is a lot of innovative work that we can do.”

Squires, who was asked about safe injection sites and what the government is doing to combat addiction, said she knew housing and addiction are complex issues that need to be addressed. And she stressed the disproportionate impact on indigenous peoples.

“We must work and work together to end homelessness among all Manitobans (and especially indigenous peoples across the province),” she said.

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Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

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