The problem of illicit drug use destroys families and communities, and needs a strong response from all levels of government. Our Manitoba government has formed a task force by joining municipal and federal officials to determine short-term and long-term recommendations to battle the use and distribution of drugs such as methamphetamine, opioids, cocaine and hallucinogens. The task force is expected to release a report in June.
We look forward to working with our federal and municipal partners to build on our recent initiatives, including five Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine clinics. We have joined the federal Emergency Treatment Fund to establish flexible-length withdrawal and recovery beds and to create mobile clinical support services, and have sanctioned the use of olanzapine by paramedics. In addition, we have introduced amendments to the Personal Health Information Act and Mental Health Act to reduce the risk of serious harm to patients and others.
Of course, medications are important in dealing with many illnesses and diseases, and our government has added 79 drugs to the Manitoba drug formulary to ensure patients have access to them through the provincial Pharmacare program. Our universal prescription drug benefit program is one of the best in Canada, and these additions will help Manitobans gain access to coverage.
Seventy-three of the 79 new drugs in the program are generic medications of varying strengths. They decrease the amount that would otherwise be spent on higher-cost equivalent drugs by $350,000 a year, allowing that money to be redirected to coverage of new drugs. Coverage for the new medications will be effective on Jan. 24.