OTTAWA – More than 20,000 Canadians have died of overdoses in the past five years, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid overdose epidemic has worsened further. Yesterday NDP Mental Health and Addiction Critic Gord Johns introduced a private member’s bill to tackle this emergency by decriminalizing personal possession and taking an approach to substance use health-based.
“As Canadians experience the COVID-19 pandemic, another pandemic has also impacted our communities. Despite what they say, the Liberals have continuously ignored calls from health experts, police chiefs and major Canadian cities to treat the opioid crisis like a health crisis, ”Johns said. “The bill I introduced will ensure that people with drug addiction problems are not treated like criminals. This will make it easier for people to get the help they need without the stigma and unsafe supply that people with drug addiction have always faced. “
If passed, the bill would decriminalize drug possession for personal use, ensure clearing of criminal records, ensure low-barrier access to a safe supply, and expand access to essential crime reduction services. harms, treatment and recovery.
British Columbia and major Canadian cities including Vancouver and Toronto have already submitted decriminalization demands to the federal government, but the Liberals are not responding with the urgency required by these demands that will ultimately cost lives. to more Canadians.
“It is essential that we take a health-based approach to this crisis and not one that punishes those who need our help most,” added Johns. “I hope parliamentarians from all parties will support these urgent and necessary measures to fight the overdose epidemic in Canada and remove the barriers preventing people from getting the help they desperately need.”
Johns, NDP health critic Don Davies and all New Democrats will continue to push the Liberal government to ensure that more families do not suffer the tragic and preventable loss of their relatives.