February 7th, 2022
The opioid crisis is killing our loved ones, the Liberals can't ignore it any longer, say Island MPs
VICTORIA – The opioid crisis has ripped through families on Vancouver Island and across the country. Since 2016 nearly 6,000 illicit drug overdose deaths have been reported in BC. That’s why local NDP MPs Laurel Collins (Victoria), Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and Randall Garrison (Esquimalt – Saanich – Sooke) are backing the party's first initiative in the new parliamentary session – a private member's bill that would help thousands of families dealing with loved ones who use or are addicted to drugs. If passed, among other things the NDP’s bill would decriminalize drug possession for personal use and expand access to crucial harm reduction, treatment and recovery services.
“Everyone on Vancouver Island has been affected, in one way or another, by the opioid crisis and toxic drug supply. Too many people have lost their loved ones because harm reduction and treatment aren't accessible,” said Collins. “This is a public health crisis not a criminal justice issue, and people cannot afford to wait any longer for the government to do the right thing.”
“Health experts, advocates and even police are calling for a different approach to tackle the opioid crisis and save lives. It’s about time the Liberals followed the experts when it comes to stopping this crisis,” said MacGregor. “Our bill does just that. It’s essential that the Liberals vote in favour of it if we’re going to prevent any more needless deaths.”
Last year, the cities of Vancouver and Toronto and the province of BC applied to the federal government for the decriminalization of drugs for personal use, a step that 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.
“Too many of our friends and neighbours are dying unnecessarily. Too many families have lost loved ones because of inaction from this government," said Garrison. “It’s time to treat this crisis with the urgency it demands.”
The Liberal government cannot stand by and watch while our loved ones die. New Democrats will continue to work alongside advocates to ensure that no more lives are needlessly lost.