OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is calling on the federal government to save lives by immediately decriminalizing possession of opioids and other illicit drugs and creating a national safe supply program. A recent report commissioned by several prominent Ontario health organisations found that opioid-related deaths are at a record high in Canada.
“Greens were the first party to speak out in favour of decriminalization because we knew it would save lives,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “We listened to health advocates, those working with drug users, coroners, the Candian Association of the Chief of Police and the thousands of families devastated by the loss of loved ones.
“Our 2019 platform called not only for decriminalization, but also for the creation of a national safe supply of drugs of choice. Those two elements are key to preventing what has now become an epidemic of opioid and drug-related toxic poisonings that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers tell the story, and the story is tragic.
“What are we waiting for to address this? We know that the chief coroner and the government of British Columbia have already asked the federal government for an exemption under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act in order to save lives in that province. All that is missing now is federal leadership.”
Ms, Paul said that because every community in Canada has been impacted by this devastating epidemic, the Green Party is calling for:
- The immediate decriminalization of possession of small amounts of illicit drugs before parliament recesses for the summer;
- Implementation, as quickly as possible, of a coordinated plan with the provinces to deliver a national safe supply program.
“These are things that must be done to prevent more unnecessary loss of life,” said Ms. Paul. “On Monday we will be launching a national campaign calling for these two elements that can drastically address the epidemic. The opioid crisis is a health-care issue, not a criminal issue, and by addressing it as such we can begin to address the underlying causes and stop this national tragedy from getting even worse.
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