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

As British Columbia marks another tragic milestone in overdose deaths, power is growing on the federal government to decriminalize non-public possession of drugs, including opioids.

The province introduced a report choice of other folks in B.C. have died so far this 12 months from overdoses — 201 in October alone.

“Merely positioned, we’re failing,” mentioned B.C.’s leader coroner Lisa Lapointe. She’s been echoing calls from officers in Toronto and MPs from across the united states of america and throughout celebration strains to start out treating habit to medication like fentanyl as an urgent health problem, in preference to a prison offence.

B.C., Vancouver and Toronto are formally asking the federal government to exempt them from the law in order to allow decriminalization of small-scale possession. They’re wording it more as a demand than a plea.

WATCH: Toronto Mayor John Tory requires 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 established order is not running,’ says Toronto Mayor John Tory

3 days ago

Duration 1:44

Toronto Mayor John Tory joins Power & Politics to talk about the Toronto Board of Well Being voting in favour of decriminalizing the possession of small quantities of illegal drugs. 1:FORTY FOUR

The status quo is not operating,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “And in cities all throughout this usa, literally hundreds of people are loss of life, continuously alone and in alleys the place they should not be.

“they usually haven’t (were given) a prison problem, not a moral downside. they’ve a illness.”

Decriminalization of so-called laborious medicine is an authentic coverage of the Liberal Birthday Party, recommended again in 2018 at its convention in Halifax.

2021 now deadliest 12 months for illicit-drug overdoses in B.C., after file 201 deaths in October, coroner saysPharmacare, decriminalizing drugs and psychological well being services and products most sensible priorities for grassroots Liberals


Liberal management and grassroots individuals seem to be on a unique path at coverage convention: Chris Hall

On The time, Top Minister Justin Trudeau — still coping with his executive’s promise to legalize marijuana — wasn’t interested by tackling another politically unsafe amendment to federal drug rules.

“On that particular issue, as I Have said, it is not part of our plans,” Trudeau instructed journalists back then.

It now appears the federal government’s reluctance is waning.

“we’re taking a look at these proposals very, very severely,” said Carolyn Bennett, the primary ever federal minister of mental well being and addictions.

In an interview airing this weekend on CBC’s The House, Bennett spoke about how her father, a police officer, lived during the Prohibition technology in Canada after the first Global Battle, and how that have shapes her own considering.

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

Psychological Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett says the federal government is considering a few approaches to the overdose problem — together with decriminalization of small-scale ownership. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“And That I assume till the day he died at NINETY THREE, he felt Prohibition by no means worked and that this was a ailment,” she said.

“I Believe we have now come through generations of occupied with how the felony justice device is getting used for what’s a health problem.”

Still, Bennett — who is a doctor — is not atmosphere a timeline for a decision as a result of she said she believes decriminalization by myself isn’t the answer to the opioid epidemic.

Different choices are also being considered, she mentioned — together with the idea of building a safe provide of opioids to offer addicts an alternative to the more and more toxic fentanyl now on the streets. The federal govt is also looking at putting in place more safe injection websites and making counselling more available.

“There have been different proposals of a more collective option to getting protected supply to the folk using medication. that is approximately dignity and saving lives, and we’re ready to actually examine all of these leading edge approaches,” she advised The Home.

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 talk about calls for for amendment to Canada’s drug rules and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett main points the federal executive’s response. 16:31

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

only a few weeks into her new task, Bennett went to Vancouver to tour together with her provincial counterpart Sheila Malcolmson the downtown east facet area that is turn into a logo of the lives destroyed by way of fentanyl addiction.

“i think she stocks our government’s feeling of urgency,” Malcolmson informed newshounds this week. “And up to now, no limitations have been recognized by Well Being Canada body of workers to a speedy 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 Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson: “i think Bennett shares our government’s feeling of urgency.” (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Decriminalization is additionally supported via many mavens.

Don MacPherson is govt director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition at Simon Fraser School. He was part of a role drive appointed by way of previous federal well being minister Patty Hajdu to propose her on drug policy. He stated charging people with easy possession, and seizing their medicine, makes no sense.

“There May Be mountains of evidence that show it’s a unhealthy thing. It’s damaging, it hurts other people and there isn’t truly an upside to it,” he informed The House.

“So the task force … got here rather temporarily to the conclusion that the federal government must immediately get started paintings on declaring a plan to decriminalize simple possession of gear across the board.”

the task drive submitted its file previous to the election and has seeing that followed up with Bennett and the new Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos. MacPherson stated they have but to hear anything else back.

MPs carry the alarm

Decriminalization is also on the minds of many MPs.

Yukon MP Brendan Hanley — who used to be the territory’s medical officer of health earlier than operating for the Liberals this 12 months — rose within the Commons Monday to acknowledge that Yukon had Canada’s easiest fee of opioid deaths. 

“Secure provide, supervised consumption, better get entry to to treatment, efficient prevention and decriminalization are all approaches that can lend a hand prevent more deaths,” he mentioned.

Green Birthday Celebration MP Mike Morrice was on his feet a day in advance, after entrance line staff in his driving of Waterloo responded to FORTY TWO suspected overdoses in exactly three days.

“so far this yr, we’ve lost 120 group members to a poisoned drug provide. each one was a preventable death,” he advised the Commons.

“Even the Canadian Affiliation of Chiefs of Police has joined calls to decriminalize easy ownership of illicit medicine. they’ve beneficial casting off mandatory felony sanctions, replacing them with harm reduction and remedy products and services. When will the government transfer ahead with decriminalization and store lives?”

Toronto Board of Well Being votes to decriminalize ownership of small quantities of unlawful medicine


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Bennett said the government is working as quickly because it can at the decriminalization requests. it’s not transparent if the government is ready to provide exemptions without being particularly requested by means of other ranges of government.

Bennett mentioned there are other factors to consider.

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

“And so it signifies that we actually must examine the opposite proposals which can be coming round approximately how we ensure that, for individuals the use of medication, that there may be a safer supply.”

hearken to CBC Radio’s The House: Tackling two pandemics

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