March 11th, 2022
NDP bill would help address the toxic drug overdose crisis that continues to devastate communities on Vancouver Island
NANAIMO – Illicit drug toxicity is now the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C., according to a report from a panel of experts released this week. Today, NDP Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, MP Gord Johns, and NDP MP Lisa Marie Barron toured Nanaimo to see the effects of this crisis first hand. Johns recently tabled a bill which would decriminalize drug possession for personal use and expand access to crucial harm reduction, treatment and recovery services to help address the growing crisis.
“Like many communities in B.C. and across the country, Nanaimo has been struggling with the toxic drug overdose crisis which has cost many families their loved ones. No one should have to experience this kind of suffering,” said Johns. “The Liberals continue to ignore the advice of experts on how to deal with this crisis. I am hopeful they, and all Parliamentarians, will support my bill which will save lives here in Nanaimo and across Canada.”
Since the province declared a public health emergency in 2016, over 9,000 people in B.C. have died from a toxic drug supply.
Last year, the cities of Vancouver and Toronto and the province of B.C. applied to the federal government for the decriminalization of drugs for personal use. This step was recommended by the Liberal government’s own Expert Task Force on substance use and supported by law enforcement organizations, including the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs.
Today, Barron and Johns met with local organizations that support people suffering from substance use disorder or those who use drugs casually, including members of including members of NARSF Programs, Community Action Team (CAT), Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), and Caledonia Park Emergency Shelter.
"We were able to speak with community members and advocates today to learn more about the toll drug toxicity has taken on so many people in Nanaimo,” added Barron. “It’s about time that the Liberal government listened to people who are living through this crisis. I hope today’s visit will shine a light on Gord’s important legislation and the urgent need for action to save lives.”