Overdose prevention site says lack of shelter to blame for Moncton man's death

MONCTON, N.B. — The director of a Moncton overdose prevention site says New Brunswick’s decades-long inaction on homelessness is responsible for the death of a man who could not access a shelter bed.

Debby Warren, the executive director of Ensemble Moncton, says her staff revived a man after an overdose at the site Monday evening then spent hours trying to find a warm place for him to stay.

All beds were full at the city’s two shelters and Warren says she was told by the person who answered the provincial Department of Social Development’s emergency line that the province no longer covers emergency hotel room stays.

After the man in his late 20s was revived, he refused to go to hospital and left the centre after telling Ensemble staff he would try to get in to one of the already-full shelters.

That evening, Warren emailed the minister of social development, local members of the legislature and city officials about the “desperate” lack of emergency housing and said she was worried the man who survived an overdose would suffer hypothermia from sleeping in the cold.

Warren says the man, whose identity has not been made public, was found dead the next morning in a public washroom outside Moncton City Hall.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press