Since 2016, there have been 14,000 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada. For the first time in 40 years, our country’s life expectancy has stalled, attributed by Stats Can to the opioid crisis. It is a national public health crisis.
We should treat problematic substance use as a health issue, not a criminal justice one. We should remove barriers to seeking treatment, not reinforce them. We should follow the evidence to save lives.
I tabled two bills to follow the evidence. The first, Bill C-235, deletes the criminal sanction for drug possession for personal use in order to treat it as a health issue. When Portugal did the same, the number of people seeking treatment increased by 60%.
The second, Bill C-236, creates an evidence-based diversion framework to ensure that police and prosecutors only proceed with criminal charges if it is inadequate to issue a warning or to refer individuals in need to health care services.It is built on the successful diversion model of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.