Across Canada, seventeen Canadians die every day from opioid-related causes. Tens of thousands of families have tragically lost loved ones to the out-of-control opioid crisis. Every part of the country has been impacted by these highly addictive and dangerous drugs, from our busiest downtown neighbourhoods to the most remote communities. And too often, the impacts are even worse for the most vulnerable and marginalized people.
Despite the obvious harm that these drugs are causing and the shocking death toll that they’ve caused, the Liberal government failed to mobilize an effective response. They have not declared a public health emergency, nor taken any steps to investigate the role that drug companies may have played in fueling the crisis. The federal government is lagging behind the urgent action being taken by provinces like British Columbia.
There is much more we can do to save lives and support those struggling with opioids. We must declare a public health emergency and commit to working with all levels of government, health experts and Canadians to end the criminalization and stigma of drug addiction, so that people struggling with addiction can get the help they need without fear of arrest, while getting tough on the real criminals - those who traffic in and profit from illegal drugs. We need to work with the provinces and health professionals to create a safe supply of medically regulated alternatives to toxic street drugs, support overdose prevention sites and expand access to treatment on demand for people struggling with addiction. We must also launch an investigation into the role drug companies may have played in fueling the opioid crisis and seek meaningful financial compensation from them for the public costs of this crisis.