Treating addiction as a health problem, not a criminal one, says O’Toole in plan to tackle the opioid crisis

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole on Sunday proposed a “compassionate” plan to tackle the opioid crisis, seeing it as a national emergency to help those battling drug addiction.

During a campaign stop at a drug addiction rehab center in New Westminster, B.C., O’Toole said 17 deaths of Canadians each day were opioid-related – and the health crisis had worsened during the pandemic.

“As Prime Minister, I will treat the opioid epidemic like the health crisis it is,” he said.

“This means that our goal should be to help people with drug addiction get the help they need to recover.”

The pledges, which are part of the party’s election platform, include $ 325 million over three years to create 1,000 new treatment beds and build 50 recovery centers in communities across the country.

The plan also commits to improving culturally appropriate treatment and prevention services in First Nations communities with high need, and to provide $ 1 billion over five years in additional funding for Indigenous mental health programs. and drug treatment.

When asked by reporters if he supports decriminalization of drugs, O’Toole said he advocates judicial discretion over treatment options rather than criminal penalties.

“I don’t think an addict should be punished. I think they should be helped,” he said.

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