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A local Member of Parliament slept in a downtown Winnipeg park to get a better sense of what people living in the inner-city experience in the midst of a methamphetamine crisis.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette spent two cold nights in a teepee, where he talked to people who live in and around Central Park, to get an idea of what they go through every day.

He says he was inspired by a Winnipeg father who wrote a letter to Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, asking him to do something about crime in the city after his stepson was seriously assaulted in a robbery.

Ouellette said a reoccurring theme from the people he talked to is there are not enough preventative measures in place to get people living on the street off drugs. He says he would like to see a more coordinated effort from all levels of governments to equip local organization and police with the tools and resources they need to help these people.

“We talk about the middle class and others and that’s very important,” Ouellette said. “But we don’t focus enough on some of the people who have been ignored for a long time.”

“We have 1,500 homeless people and if they’re using and decide to get off drugs, they might not even get into a program,” he continued. “I think it’s going to be people in the middle-class who end up in that program because they might have someone in their family advocating for them to get in.”

He says one of those organizations is Main Street Project, which has talked about expanding to the Mitchell Fabrics building and setting up a safe injection site, although the province hasn’t committed to providing any type of funding for that type of facility as of yet.

“If we had a place where they could do it safely, then Main Street Project would be able to take them in and say ‘Hey, here’s some proper healthcare, here’s the proper needles, and also, here’s an addictions treatment program for you, would you be interested in getting into it right now?’,” Ouellette said. “There are lots of tools but we don’t seem to be using them very well.”

Over the past few months, the Winnipeg Police Service has attributed a rise in property crimes, armed robberies and gun violence to meth use. Ouellette says one woman he spoke with told him there has been 19 stabbings in Central Park in the past month.

Police Const. Rob Carver disputed this number in an emailed statement, saying they’ve only seen a fraction of that.