As overdose deaths hit a grim new record, officials push Ottawa to stop treating addiction as a crime

As British Columbia marks any other tragic milestone in overdose deaths, drive is growing on the federal govt to decriminalize personal ownership of drugs, including opioids.

The province introduced a record selection of other people in B.C. have died up to now this year from overdoses — 201 in October alone.

“Merely positioned, we are failing,” stated B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe. She’s been echoing calls from officials in Toronto and MPs from around the us of a and across celebration lines to start out treating addiction to drugs like fentanyl as an urgent sickness, rather than a prison offence.

B.C., Vancouver and Toronto are officially asking the federal executive to exempt them from the legislation in order to permit decriminalization of small-scale ownership. They Are wording it extra as a demand than a plea.

WATCH: Toronto Mayor John Tory calls for big adjustments to Canada’s illicit drug policy

As overdose deaths hit a grim new record, officials push Ottawa to stop treating addiction as a crime

‘The establishment isn’t working,’ says Toronto Mayor John Tory

4 days ago

Duration 1:FORTY FOUR

Toronto Mayor John Tory joins Energy & Politics to talk about the Toronto Board of Well Being balloting in favour of decriminalizing the ownership of small quantities of illegal drugs. 1:44

The established order isn’t running,” mentioned Toronto Mayor John Tory. “And in cities all throughout this united states, literally hundreds of individuals are loss of life, incessantly alone and in alleys where they shouldn’t be.

“and they have not (got) a legal downside, no longer an ethical drawback. they have got a ailment.”

Decriminalization of so-referred to as arduous medicine is an professional policy of the Liberal Celebration, counseled back in 2018 at its convention in Halifax.

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At The time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — nonetheless coping with his executive’s promise to legalize marijuana — wasn’t eager about tackling some other politically unsafe modification to federal drug regulations.

“On that particular issue, as I’ve stated, it’s not a part of our plans,” Trudeau told reporters back then.

It now seems the federal govt’s reluctance is waning.

“we are looking at these proposals very, very seriously,” stated Carolyn Bennett, the first ever federal minister of psychological health and addictions.

In an interview airing this weekend on CBC’s The Home, Bennett spoke approximately how her father, a police officer, lived throughout the Prohibition technology in Canada after the first World Struggle, and the way that have shapes her own considering.

As overdose deaths hit a grim new record, officials push Ottawa to stop treating addiction as a crime

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett says the government is thinking about a few strategies to the overdose crisis — including decriminalization of small-scale ownership. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“And That I assume until the day he died at 93, he felt Prohibition never worked and that this was a health problem,” she said.

“I Think we have come thru generations of thinking about how the prison justice device is getting used for what is a health problem.”

Nonetheless, Bennett — who is a doctor — is not atmosphere a timeline for a decision as a result of she said she believes decriminalization on my own is not the answer to the opioid epidemic.

Different choices are also being considered, she said — including the idea of building a safe provide of opioids to give addicts an choice to the increasingly toxic fentanyl now at the streets. The federal executive could also be setting up extra protected injection web sites and making counselling more to be had.

“There had been different proposals of a extra collective technique to getting safe provide to the people the usage of medicine. this is approximately dignity and saving lives, and we are prepared to actually read about all of these innovative approaches,” she advised The House.

As overdose deaths hit a grim new record, officials push Ottawa to stop treating addiction as a crime
SIXTEEN:31Is it time to decriminalize medication?

Drug overdose deaths are spiking in Canada. Advocates speak about calls for for modification to Canada’s drug laws and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett details the federal executive’s response. SIXTEEN:31

‘No barriers’ to decriminalization: B.C. minister

just a few weeks into her new activity, Bennett went to Vancouver to excursion together with her provincial counterpart Sheila Malcolmson the downtown east side area that is change into an emblem of the lives destroyed by way of fentanyl habit.

“i feel she stocks our executive’s feeling of urgency,” Malcolmson informed reporters this week. “And so far, no limitations had been identified by Health Canada team of workers to a fast processing and approval of our decriminalization.”

As overdose deaths hit a grim new record, officials push Ottawa to stop treating addiction as a crime

B.C. Minister of Psychological Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson: “i believe Bennett stocks our govt’s feeling of urgency.” (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Decriminalization is additionally supported by many experts.

Don MacPherson is government director of the Canadian Drug Coverage Coalition at Simon Fraser College. He was a part of a job drive appointed through earlier federal health minister Patty Hajdu to recommend her on drug coverage. He mentioned charging people with simple ownership, and seizing their medication, makes no feel.

“There’s mountains of evidence that show it’s a dangerous factor. It Is destructive, it hurts other people and there is not in reality an upside to it,” he informed The Home.

“So the task power … came fairly briefly to the conclusion that the federal executive must immediately start paintings on asserting a plan to decriminalize simple possession of substances around the board.”

the task pressure submitted its record prior to the election and has given that followed up with Bennett and the brand new Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos. MacPherson stated they have got but to listen to the rest again.

MPs carry the alarm

Decriminalization could also be on the minds of many MPs.

Yukon MP Brendan Hanley — who was once the territory’s medical officer of health ahead of working for the Liberals this 12 months — rose in the Commons Tuesday to acknowledge that Yukon had Canada’s best rate of opioid deaths. 

“Safe supply, supervised intake, higher get entry to to remedy, efficient prevention and decriminalization are all strategies that can help save you extra deaths,” he stated.

Green Birthday Party MP Mike Morrice used to be on his ft a day earlier, after front line staff in his driving of Waterloo replied to FORTY TWO suspected overdoses in precisely three days.

“so far this yr, we’ve misplaced 120 community contributors to a poisoned drug supply. each one was a preventable death,” he instructed the Commons.

“Even the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has joined calls to decriminalize simple ownership of illicit drugs. they’ve recommended removing obligatory legal sanctions, changing them with hurt relief and remedy products and services. While will the federal government move forward with decriminalization and keep lives?”

Toronto Board of Well Being votes to decriminalize ownership of small amounts of illegal drugs


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Bennett said the government is operating as quickly as it can on the decriminalization requests. it isn’t transparent if the government is prepared to provide exemptions with out being in particular asked by different ranges of presidency.

Bennett mentioned there are other components to think about.

“Decriminalization on its own, with a poisonous drug provide, will not save the lives that we need (to),” she told The Home.

“And so it signifies that we actually must read about the opposite proposals that are coming around about how we be certain that that, for people the usage of medicine, that there may be a more secure supply.”

take heed to CBC Radio’s The Home: Tackling pandemics

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