Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (assistance — drug overdose)

Sponsor

Ron McKinnon  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order to exempt from charges for possession or charges related to the violation of certain conditions or orders a person who seeks emergency medical or law enforcement assistance for themselves or another person following overdosing on a controlled substance.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Nov. 2, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2016 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I want to thank all members of the House for their support of the good Samaritan drug overdose act. Members from all regions of Canada became co-seconders of Bill C-224, although the rules of the House did not allow for more than 20. It is a resounding call for the need for the legislation to be passed, and quickly. Members recognize that the bill would save lives.

In my speech at second reading, I spoke about two young men, Austin and Kelly. Austin, Kelly and countless others might still be with us today if the good Samaritan bill on drug overdose had been a law when they made that one, fatal mistake. However, we will never really know.

When I was researching the bill, even before I introduced Bill C-224, it was evident that this law is sorely needed. What I did not expect was the groundswell of support that came out shortly after the bill's first reading. Groups and individuals from every part of Canada called and emailed, telling me how much the legislation is needed. I thank them for that. Their support motivated me even more to make sure that the bill became law.

The House is steeped in democratic traditions. Our legislation process gives members the ability to scrutinize legislation. We are elected by and for our constituents to represent their values, beliefs, and desires. During second reading, I heard impassioned speeches from both sides of the House, some of which were very personal, making it clear that the good Samaritan drug overdose act had broad support.

Outside this chamber, it is the committees that continue Canada's democratic traditions. Committees give each piece of legislation more scrutiny, and the Standing Committee on Health did just that. The committee did its job well. They heard from many witnesses, from paramedics, front-line workers, Austin's mom, academics, and from drug users themselves.

For me, the most compelling testimony came from the drug-using community. That community does not feel safe and does fear law enforcement in an overdose situation. The committee heard that the bill would not go far enough, that exemptions from prosecution should be broadened beyond simple possession. I agree with that.

Studies show that fear of prosecution for possession is just one of the key reasons that people do not call 911 in the event of a drug overdose, but there are also other reasons, such as outstanding warrants and breach of probation. The bill is only one piece in the harm reduction tool kit. It is a tool kit that needs to be broadened and expanded over time.

I believe it would have been good to have broadened the scope of the bill to include outstanding warrants and breach of probation. However, that would have made the bill way too complex and controversial, lessening the chances of its passage.

If passed in its current form, the good Samaritan drug overdose act would still save lives.

I laud the Standing Committee on Health for their work on this bill and for referring the good Samaritan drug overdose act back to this House without amendment. The committee recognized the urgency of opioid deaths and how Bill C-224 is desperately needed in Canada.

The committee should also be commended for taking heed of the testimony they heard during the study of Bill C-224. The powerful testimony of witnesses led to a motion being introduced during the deliberations on the good Samaritan drug overdose act, a motion to study the opioid crisis in Canada. Now, the committee is doing just that, and I have been honoured to have participated in some of the committee's meetings on that study. We cannot delay taking action on the opioid crisis in Canada.

During the course of the deliberations on the bill, countless lives have been lost. I see it in the news every day. We do not know how many lives would have been saved if the Good Samaritan drug overdose act had been law.

Our government has been continuing to put more tools in that harm-reduction toolkit since the bill was introduced. That includes removing naloxone from the list of prescription drugs. The government is also listing the six essential ingredients that make fentanyl deadly as controlled substances.

In the coming weeks the Minister of Health will be arranging an opioid abuse summit, which will prioritize how we can start to get out of this mess.

I thank members of this House for their support of the good Samaritan drug overdose act.

I want to thank the Library of Parliament, the House of Commons legal department and the private members' business office for their incredible support on Bill C-224. There are several moving pieces to drafting and supporting legislation and without them this bill would not have happened.

Ultimately this bill needs to become law. I ask all members of the House to come together and support the good Samaritan drug overdose act to help save lives.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2016 / 1:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for speaking so movingly in regard to the bill at second reading.

The other similar aspects to the bill that could be addressed would be to provide immunities for breaches of probation, for outstanding warrants and so forth. Doing so would greatly exceed the scope of the bill, but those are the other kinds of things that people fear when calling the police or calling 911 in the event of a drug overdose.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2016 / 1:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the motion and the good work he has done in bringing this forward.

I absolutely agreed with his comments at second reading about the need to go further, that this is just a first step. With respect to that and related to the drug overdose crisis, as members know, Bill C-2 is impeding efforts by medical health professionals to move forward in addressing the opioid crisis.

B.C.'s own medical health officer, Perry Kendall, has said that we need to get rid of Bill C-2. Does the member agree with our medical health officer about Bill C-2?

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2016 / 1:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for seconding the bill at first reading.

I agree that Bill C-2 from the previous Parliament created a problem, an almost impenetrable labyrinth for people to traverse in trying to establish supervised consumption sites. We need to take a hard look at it and should look proactively at streamlining the process to make it more effective, because we need many more supervised consumption sites in this country.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2016 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act. I thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for presenting this important piece of legislation. He has certainly worked very hard.

When I first read through the bill, I have to admit that I was a bit concerned. We are currently facing one of the worst drug epidemics that our nation has ever seen, and that is with regard to the opioid crisis. The combination of diverted pharmaceuticals, veterinary tranquillizers, and illicit drugs has created a very deadly mix of street drugs.

This past week in my riding of Lethbridge, 777 fentanyl pills were seized by the police in two separate drug raids. This is impacting every single nook and cranny within my community.

Having said that, many Canadians would agree that we need to tackle the root factors that are causing this epidemic. I agree with that. This is why we definitely need tougher laws to get drug dealers off the streets, and certainly not weaker ones. This legislation is part of a multipronged approach that should be taken in all communities across this country.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Health, I had the opportunity to examine the bill closely, and I heard from many expert witnesses from all corners of the country. Regardless of the geographical region or the sector from which they came, all of them agreed that Bill C-224 would save lives.

How exactly would this legislation do that? At the present time, when someone overdoses, there are barriers to that individual getting help quickly. For instance, young people often experiment with drugs with friends and family. In the event of an overdose, those who are with the person are often scared to call for help because they are afraid of the legal repercussions. As a result, they either do nothing, or they call 911 and then quickly flee the scene so they will not be prosecuted. As a result of this fear, young lives are lost.

When I was first made aware of this piece of legislation, I was concerned that it might allow dealers to go free or prevent police from being able to take action to shut down crack houses or illicit drug operations. After listening to the legal experts, it became clear that the bill would not provide another legal loophole for drug dealers to escape conviction. The exemptions provided in the bill only apply to those who are in simple possession.

Criminal Code offences, such as possession for the purpose of trafficking, would still apply to individuals at the scene of an overdose. Why is this important? It is important because it means that this legislation finds a balance between removing barriers to individuals having the courage to call 911, as well as preserving the power of law enforcement to convict criminals responsible for pushing these drugs on our streets. We see more than ever the organized crime rates in Canada, so it is important for me to discuss this. Again, the specific exemption within this legislation would apply to simple possession only. In this context, only those using the illicit drug, and not those who are trafficking the drug, would be exempt.

One of the heartbreaking stories we heard during my time on committee studying this legislation was from a mother who lost her 17-year-old son to an overdose. He was hanging out with his friends. There were about six people around him at the time, and they refused to call for medical assistance because they were afraid of the negative repercussions they might face. As a result, this young man's life was lost that day.

When it comes to opioid overdoses, there are simple and effective treatments such as naloxone, which can halt the effects of the opioid long enough to get a patient to hospital to receive the attention he or she needs. With the strength of illicit opioids, minutes matter in this endeavour. A few minutes can help spare a life. If bystanders were to wait for those few minutes to determine if an overdose was mild or life-threatening, that indecision could result in that person losing his or her life.

This is particularly true of young recreational drug users who have more to lose because of police involvement in an overdose. Young people who are experimenting with illegal drugs are more likely to try to keep their involvement with them a secret. As expert witnesses at committee repeatedly stressed, it is easier to deal with a drug addiction at the start of the addiction rather than caring for it later on.

Bill C-224 has the ability to facilitate early intervention and access to treatment, which I believe would serve our younger generation very well.

For addicts who are housing insecure or altogether homeless, the bill would simply puts in place what would already be common practice in many jurisdictions, and that is this. When front-line workers are called to an overdose situation, what often happens is the EMS will respond right away in order to care for that individual. Police officers will often hold back rather than going into the scene. The reason for this is because they will enter if there is a threat to medical staff or to the staff on site, let us say at a shelter. However, for r the most part they will hold back. The reason for that is because then it creates safety for concerned individuals to call EMS responders to the scene to react to the overdose.

Right now Canada is facing a significant crisis when it comes to deaths caused by opioid overdoses. In B.C., for example, the situation is so serious that public health within B.C. has declared a state of emergency. The truth is that we have been aware of this problem for a little more than a year now across our country, but there has been very little discernible action from the federal government on this file. At health committee, it was the NDP as well as the Conservatives at the table who put forward the motion to study the opioid crisis in Canada and to deliver recommendations to the health minister for consideration.

No steps have been taken to limit the import and the operation of pill press machines in Canada that enable criminal organizations to pump out hundreds of thousands of oxycodone knock-offs on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. The Liberal government reversed the Conservative regulations to move Canada toward a tamper-resistant prescription opioid, which is a very unfortunate decision. By reversing this direction, the Liberals allowed the easy conversion of legal pharmaceuticals to be used in a variety of street drugs, thus adding to the problem that we see today.

It took until last month for Health Canada to finally make naloxone a non-prescription drug and therefore accessible across Canada. Even after doing that, the provinces still need a few more months to loosen up their own restrictions to have this antidote make a real difference within streets.

The health minister finally decided that she would hold an opioid summit in mid-November. Although I am very thankful that this decision has been made, I am also disappointed with the amount of time it has taken just to achieve this. We do not need to wait for a summit this fall in order to start taking action on this file. We already know that border controls need to be ramped up. We know that Health Canada needs to make regulatory changes to limit prescription opioids that could easily be tampered with. We also know that stricter prescribing as well as tracking practices need to be implemented. We know that the over-prescribing of opioids on reserves needs to be addressed. We also need to provide treatment care for those who wish to get off of these addictions.

There is a saying on a reserve near my riding, which is “The drug dealers wear white coats”. This is made in reference to the availability of legal prescription opioids from doctors. The devastating effect this has for persons susceptible to drug abuse is tremendous. Dozens of people are dying each and every month. Dreams are being shattered. Potential is going unfulfilled and hope is disintegrating altogether.

I would contend that waiting to act on this national crisis is not an option. If we value human life, we must act now. I would contend that this requires a national strategy with regard to the opioid crisis we face in our country today. Bill C-224 is just one step, one very small step, in the massive puzzle that is needed to be put together in order to tackle this problem.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2016 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise to speak to the motion. Let me first thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for bringing this motion to the floor and raising the issue in the House of Commons.

At some point in time, all members in the House have been touched by this incredible issue of addiction, substance misuse in our own communities. Perhaps we have come to know people who have lost their lives. The thing about substance misuse and drug addiction is that it is entirely preventable.

In fact, on the question of overdose, there is overwhelming evidence to illustrate the fact that we need to look at substance misuse as a medical health issue and not a criminal justice issue. That is how we can save lives.

To the point of this motion, this is exactly what the member is trying to do, to take away the criminal element so we can save lives.

Imagine for one minute what life would be like if one of our children, a son or daughter, who might be young, is experimenting, takes drugs, and at that moment in time a life is lost. Imagine what that would be like. I cannot imagine. I am a mother of two young kids, aged 13 and 8. I dread the teenage years to come, the idea of kids experimenting, some horrible, unimaginable thing happening, and lives being lost.

I see this in my own community in Vancouver East. So many people's lives have been lost. There is a saying that dead people do not detox and that is why we need harm reduction. That is why we need to move forward in addressing this from a medical health perspective.

The member's bill is one piece in the harm reduction spectrum on which we need to move forward. We need to tell people that they do not need to worry about a criminal charges being laid against them. In this instance, it would be limited to only simple possession but, nonetheless, it is equally important to send that message.

Additional work needs to be done. There is no question about it. My colleague, the health critic, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, attempted to move in that direction at committee. He moved an amendment to call for expanding the scope of the bill to allow for additional measures. For example, people in my community say that it is not so much that they worry about a charge of simple possession, they worry about outstanding warrants. They worry about violating their parole, for example, and that there would be implications for them. Young people gather at these things called raves. They party and bad things happen. There is no definition of “at the scene”, the scope of that, and whether it would apply to a group of people in that context.

If we want to move in this direction, more work needs to be done and we need to keep pushing to ensure that the issue around substance misuse is looked at from a health perspective. Addiction is a health issue. I know the former Conservative government thought it was a criminal justice issue alone.

I was relieved to hear the conviction of the member who spoke before me to save lives. Let us look at this issue from that perspective. I would assume that if we believe in that and on the evidence that has been presented, we would all agree that the time has come for the government to also repeal C-2, because that prevents saving lives.

The medical health officer in my community in Vancouver, British Columbia, has said on the public record that Bill C-2 impedes progress in moving forward with respect to harm reduction in terms of bringing supervised injection facilities into communities. The litany of onerous requirements prevent medical health officers to move forward on bringing supervised injection facilities into communities.

As it stands right now, there is only one application before the government, and that is from Montreal. My community has tried to move forward with others and has been unable to get it on the table because of the onerous requirements.

The medical health officer from Vancouver, Patricia Daly, has said on the public record that Vancouver is struggling to try to move forward on this because of the onerous requirements on Bill C-2. We need to get rid of this bill. Let us get real about saving lives. This measure is an important one. I absolutely support it, but we cannot stop there. There is so much more that we can do. The fact is that we do have a crisis, a national crisis, on our hands with the opioid overdose situation.

The desperation in my own community is such that there are pop-up tents. In fact, there is one pop-up tent that has emerged in our community. Volunteers have come forward to provide for some measure of safety for drug users. They say that they would not want to continue this operation because it is not a sanctioned site. There are no health practitioners at the site, but they are doing this. Why? Because they have seen their loved ones die. They actually provide naloxone to the tune of up to 24 cases where they have utilized that to save lives on the ground. Each day when the site is up and running, up to 100 people inject at that site.

This should not be how we continue. It should not be the case. We need to bring forward science-based and proven strategies to address this. A safe site, Insite, is one of those measures. We need to ensure there is progress here, and take away measures that hamper progress in that regard. Bill C-2 is one of them.

I once again thank the member for bringing this forward. I support the bill. I applaud his efforts. More work needs to be done, and I look forward to working with all members of the House and moving forward with this goal in mind: we need to bring in measures to save lives.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2016 / 2 p.m.
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Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House today at third reading and support Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act.

First and foremost, I want to thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for bringing this extremely important piece of legislation to the House. This is a piece of legislation that, if passed, would help to break down systematic barriers that deter people from calling 911 in the event of an overdose.

Evidence indicates that individuals are too often afraid to call for medical help in the event of an overdose. This is due to a number of concerns, one of which is fear of arrest or criminal charges. Bill C-224 would help to address this issue by providing those who experience or witness an overdose, call 911, and stay at the scene with immunity from minor drug possession charges. In other words, Bill C-224 is a harm reduction measure.

Our government is committed to protecting the health and safety of all Canadians. We recognize that problematic substance use can have devastating impacts on individuals, their families, and their communities. This is why our government is taking a balanced, comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to addressing the serious issue of problematic substance use. It is an approach that aims to protect both public health and public safety.

The term “harm reduction” often elicits strong reactions from people. I believe this is at least partly because it is misunderstood. I would like to take a moment to explain what it means to our government.

In general, harm reduction refers to policies, programs, or initiatives that aim to reduce the negative health and social impacts associated with problematic substance use on individuals and communities, without requiring abstention as an immediate goal. Our government has demonstrated strong support for evidence-based harm reduction measures that have been proven to help prevent the harm associated with problematic substance use, including overdose death.

However, I want to make it clear that this does not mean that harm reduction and abstention are mutually exclusive. In fact, while abstention is not the primary goal of harm reduction initiatives, harm reduction can act as a first step to meeting longer term goals such as reduced problematic use of drugs and full recovery. In other words, harm reduction measures can help pave a path to recovery by meeting people where they are in their lives right now.

Another common myth is that a focus on harm reduction is inconsistent with the objectives of drug control. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is our government's view that harm reduction is part of a comprehensive policy continuum and can complement and reinforce prevention, treatment, and enforcement initiatives. It is part of a holistic approach to addressing drug-related crime and problematic substance use.

Bill C-224 reflects these values. It melds public health and public safety interests and would provide an opportunity for law enforcement to build trusting relationships with individuals who use drugs, relationships that would help to reduce fears of calling 911 to save the life of someone experiencing an overdose.

I do not want to sell Bill C-224 as a solution that would prevent all overdose deaths. It will not. We do no favours to Canadians suffering from addiction when we debate a drug policy in black and white terms. Problematic substance use is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive response. Just like any other drug policy, Bill C-224 must work in conjunction with other initiatives to address the full scope of issues associated with problematic substance use.

That is why our government recently announced a new opioid action plan. The plan focuses on five key areas: better informing Canadians about the risks of opioids, supporting better prescribing practices, reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids, supporting better treatment options for patients, and improving the national evidence base upon which policy decisions are made.

Two of the action items under the plan were an expedited review of naloxone nasal spray, a more user-friendly version of the overdose-reverse drug, as well as an interim order to buy bulk stocks of the drug from the United States during the review process. I am pleased to say that Health Canada has completed its review and has authorized naloxone nasal spray for non-prescription use.

With federal market authorization, the manufacturer is now able to take the necessary steps to bring this drug to the Canadian market. This is a key step in helping to reduce overdose deaths, as the two crucial actions that can be taken to help save a life during an overdose are calling 911 and administering naloxone.

Also, next month the Minister of Health will be hosting a summit on opioids to bring together experts, patient groups, governments, and regulators to discuss the current crisis and identify actions for moving forward.

In conclusion, Bill C-224 supports and complements our government's approach to drug policy and will help save lives. That is why we are supporting this extremely important piece of legislation.

As a registered nurse, I am extremely concerned about the opioid crisis occurring across Canada. We know that addressing this issue will require a comprehensive and evidence-based public health approach. Bill C-224 would be a welcome addition to our government's efforts, and I hope colleagues from all across the House will continue to support it. As many members have already stated, every life matters, and we have a duty to do what we can to help prevent these tragic accidental deaths from taking place.

This is an issue that requires a whole-of-government approach, and we are dedicated to working with our provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as experts across the country, to address this devastating crisis. As a country, we know we are facing an opioid crisis, and together, we will find a way to address this tragic situation.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2016 / 2:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act. I thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for introducing this important piece of legislation.

In my riding of Edmonton West, similar to many parts of the country, we have seen a growing crisis with fentanyl and opioid use. According to the CBC, there have been 338 deaths from fentanyl overdoses in Alberta alone this year. If we think about that, it is equivalent to every member sitting in the House of Commons being wiped out since January. The numbers continue to rise, with no indication of its slowing down. It has become so bad that even the Alberta Health Services' web page cannot keep track of the number of fentanyl deaths. In Edmonton alone, there have been 102 overdose deaths since January. Even more deadly is the opioid W18, which is now showing up in Edmonton. Ironically, it was created at the U of A, but it is now hitting the streets. Recently, we have had a drug bust with enough W18 to wipe out half of the population if it were taken individually. Drugs like fentanyl and W18 are taking their toll on our cities and communities. Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of this crisis is that many untimely deaths could be prevented.

Dr. Charmaine Enns, chair of the Health Officers Council of British Columbia, has said, “Every year, psychoactive substances...are linked to greater than 47,000 deaths and many thousands more injuries and disabilities.... Sadly much of this carnage is preventable.”

I hope no Canadian is prevented from taking action when necessary because they fear the consequences of doing so. It is my hope that if anyone is ever in a situation in which they need to act to save someone's life, they can act without fear of repercussions, to spare a family the agony of losing a loved one, and to be able to act in the best interest of someone who needs help and in the best interests of their community. In a previous career, I experienced this first hand. I was a young hotel manager, and as I was living closest to the hotel, I would often get the first call when there was an emergency. I received a phone call from a frantic night auditor at four in the morning. I went the hotel and found four people suffering from overdoses. One had died. When the police arrived, once the people were revived, they said they had seen their friend writhing and dying but did not contact anyone for fear of being arrested. This is something that is still happening today. Therefore, I support this bill by our member.

As elected officials and lawmakers, we are obligated to take action in areas in which there is a clear and present need. In the case of unreported overdoses, it is my belief that the good Samaritan drug overdose act would fill this legislative gap.

Combatting drug-related crime requires a collaborative approach between municipal, provincial, and federal partners. Together, we must ensure that our levels of governments send a strong message to drug traffickers, while not penalizing users who are at their most vulnerable and in an overdosed state. While this bill will not change the rates of drug-related crime, something that our party has consistently taken a tough, clear stance on, it may help encourage people to take action and call emergency professionals in life-and-death situations, potentially saving the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of Canadians from coast to coast.

As the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam mentioned in committee, as I think has been noted more than once throughout the debate on this bill, there is often a barrier to accessing help in the time needed to prevent a potentially fatal situation due to fear of the consequences or legal ramifications for the person making the call. While these findings are indicative of a separate, albeit related, issue facing Canadians, namely access to banned substances, it is important that our efforts to remain tough on crime and drugs do not come at a human cost. We as lawmakers truly believe that life is worth protecting, and we need to ensure that the Canadians who need help get it.

According to the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, “Fear of arrest weighs heavily on this life or death decision. People legitimately fear the police showing up, being criminally charged for drug possession, and for mothers, having their children taken away.” By removing the possibility of criminal charges against those who call emergency professionals, we are encouraging people to take life-saving action. This is especially true now, with deadly fentanyl and W18 on the streets, where ever moment's delay in receiving the miracle drug naloxone can literally lead to death.

On the issue of W18, this drug is reported to be 100 to 1,000 times more deadly than fentanyl. Oddly enough, it is just now being regulated as a controlled drug under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, and until recently could be manufactured freely. Like others in the House, I would encourage the government to work faster on this and other W series drugs.

I would also urge the government to take steps similar to the Government of Alberta to restrict access to the pill presses used to make illegal drugs. By limiting the purchase of pill presses, table machines, and pharmaceutical mixers to only pharmacists and licensed professionals, we would take the necessary steps as Canadians to protect our communities.

Now as to the bill, it is not, as some critics have said, condoning drug use. This would ensure that drug users and addicts, in some regard the victims of drug trafficking, are provided with support and assurance that their lives still have value, and that a person acting in the injured person's best interest would not be penalized for saving a life.

I am pleased to support the bill and hope my colleagues in the House will support the bill as well.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2016 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Madam Speaker, I am proud to once again rise in strong support of Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act. I would like to thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for bringing up this vital piece of legislation. Now is the time to help our fellow Canadians in need.

Drawing on my 20 years of experience as an emergency physician, I can say with confidence that, if passed, Bill C-224 would save lives. During my clinical experience, I have witnessed and treated many overdose victims in the poverty-stricken downtown core of Winnipeg. Emergency room doctors, nurses, and first responders are better able to help people when they know what the victims have ingested into their systems. Finding out what someone has ingested is vital when determining what one can do to help them.

The findings on physical examination are often too variable to yield any useful information and laboratory tests can take too long to be of benefit. I often have to ask these patients or those who accompany them what substances they have taken. Typically, they are reluctant to provide this information. However, once I explain that there is no risk of prosecution due to patient and physician confidentiality, they give me honest answers and I am able to provide better care.

Doctor and patient confidentiality should be extended to the individuals who accompany the victims and fear of the law should not prevent someone from potentially saving a life. As physicians, nurses, first responders, and as a society, we all have a duty to care for the most vulnerable in our communities. I believe this bill would help our vulnerable population be less afraid to ask for the help they need for their friends and themselves.

Some may argue that people who routinely ingest harmful drugs are responsible for their outcome and what happens to them is their choice. I disagree. It is almost unanimously accepted by the medical profession that addiction is an illness. Furthermore, it is not widely understood by the public that addiction is highly correlated with underlying mental illness. Someone with an undiagnosed or poorly controlled mental illness may take harmful substances in an attempt to self-medicate. This bill is vital to helping these vulnerable individuals.

Critics of this bill might claim that by preventing legal sanctions against drug users, this bill facilitates and encourages drug use, as is claimed with other forms of harm reduction. On this point, the evidence is also clear. Harm reduction saves lives, improves outcomes, increases access to rehabilitation, and does not increase either the use of drugs or incidence of crime. This is the conclusion of the Canadian Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

While we have made steps in other areas of harm reduction, Canada lags behind other jurisdictions on this issue. In the United States, over 30 states and the District of Columbia have some form of good Samaritan overdose immunity law. In 2014, the House Standing Committee on Health recommended considering good Samaritan overdose legislation in the future. This recommendation has yet to be implemented. What are we waiting for?

When looking at this bill, we should consider the evidence. A Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council study found that fewer than half of respondents would call 911 in an overdose situation, citing potential charges as a major barrier. A study of Washington state, which passed good Samaritan overdose legislation in 2010, found that almost 90% of respondents aware of the law would make the call.

When considering this legislation, it is important to recognize these people are our sons, daughters, friends, and family members. Young people at a house party may be too scared to call for help for their overdosing friend if they fear charges. Too often we have seen this story in the news, how fear caused delay, and there should not be a need for hesitation or a second thought when calling to save a life. If this bill is passed, scared young people at a house party will be more likely to call 911 if their friend is in trouble. A bystander will be more likely to put compassion and conscience before fear and self-interest.

I expect this legislation will receive very wide support in the House, with very little opposition. In fact, if any members are considering opposing this bill, I urge them to please talk to a recovering addict, an emergency room doctor, or a victim's family. Members should ask these persons with direct experience if they think this bill could save lives, and then they should vote their conscience.

Evidence-based legislation should appeal to our hearts as much as it appeals to our logic. We need a law that responds to the rising fatalities associated with opioid use. With these rising fatalities, it is now more important to act. The future victims of an overdose cannot wait any longer. The sooner this legislation is implemented, the more vulnerable Canadians could be saved because someone made the right decision to make the call to save a life.

We are dealing with an ongoing and escalating tragedy. Let us wait no longer. The time is right to pass Bill C-224. As the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam has said, there is no time for saving lives like the present. Let us pass Bill C-224. Let us save lives.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2016 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for putting forward Bill C-224, an important piece of legislation. Not all of us are so fortunate as to get such an early spot for our private member's bills and to have a bill that is going to potentially make a lifesaving difference. It is truly a privilege.

I would like to provide a bit of perspective around what the issue is that my colleague is trying to address.

In British Columbia, the province both the member and I are from, between 2010 and 2015 there was a 50% increase in deaths due to drug overdose. In 2016 we have seen a really worrisome spike. There have been 201 deaths in three months in British Columbia. The situation is so serious that public health has declared a state of emergency. This is not only a big issue in British Columbia but it is a big issue across Canada.

We think this perhaps happens only in some of our larger centres, such as the Downtown Eastside. That is not accurate. In Kamloops alone there have been 13 fatalities in three months from drug overdoses, and six of those happened in one day. Four individuals managed to get treatment and are fine.

These are not just numbers and facts. These are people. These are our friends. These are our children. In Kamloops, three families have spoken out directly on this issue. They want to raise awareness, especially about fentanyl and the tragic consequences of its use.

Ryan Pinneo's family has spoken out publicly. Their son was an athlete with a very supportive family. He struggled with addiction and succumbed to a tragic overdose.

There was another young man from Kamloops named Lance Ritchie whose parents have also spoken out. The reason they are speaking out is to raise awareness in terms of the incredible danger that is out there. Lance Ritchie loved the outdoors. He loved to fish. His family has beautiful pictures of him. They have shown the people of Kamloops the pictures and have told them that, yes, he did something wrong and foolish but he was a wonderful man.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben Coan is another whose family is grieving, and it is so tragic to hear the mothers and fathers talk about their children.

Someone that I knew from a very young age, and it was a fairly high-profile tragedy in North Vancouver, involved Hardy and Amelia, a couple of young parents. They made a foolish decision, no question about it. They were good people who made a bad mistake.

What would this legislation mean? The research the proponent of the bill shared was that sometimes there is a barrier to getting help quickly and that barrier is because the people who are with their friends or their classmates or their mothers and fathers are worried that there will be some consequences in terms of the substances. The research is clear that at times there has been a barrier because of possession. We also just heard from a doctor across the aisle who, in his own experience, found that there was a barrier for people in terms of self-interest or many reasons in terms of getting help quickly.

In the case of opioids, what does getting help quickly mean? I am a nurse by background. I can remember in the hospital there was a case, and this was a legitimate use of a narcotic for pain control. We had given a woman some pain medication post-surgery and just a couple of minutes later I happened to go into the room and she had stopped breathing as the result of an allergic reaction to the pain medication.

It was absolutely shocking to see someone who had stopped breathing and who was on the brink of death. The hospitals have something called Narcan or naloxone. We injected the naloxone, or Narcan as it was called, into her and she started breathing again. She opened her eyes and wondered what had happened. For someone who has never seen this, Narcan can reverse the effects an allergy to medicaitons.

This is a multi-issue and this is one piece of the puzzle that our colleague has introduced in getting help for people quickly. Removing barriers for them to seek help is a really important piece of the puzzle.

British Columbia has a take-home naloxone program to make it readily available. Health Canada worked rapidly, going through a process to make naloxone available, not a prescription. It is cheaper for patients who have a bee allergy. We will often see their kits and learn how to do an injection to reverse the effects of the allergy to the bee. This particular injection can be easily learned and is truly life-saving.

The other important feature is that lay people can learn how to deliver naloxone. It is absolutely life-saving and there is very minimal adverse effects.

I noted that some people have said that we perhaps should be criticizing this because we are endorsing drug use. That is not actually what is happening. It has been very clear that what is happening is life-saving, whether it is someone who is suffering from an addiction who has taken an overdose, or whether it is a young person who has been at a party and who has made perhaps a foolish decision.

If we put this bill into the context of what is a dramatically escalating situation in British Columbia and across Canada and provide some basic life-saving tools, then we have a good bill. I too hope all members in the House will support the bill. Again, even if it saves one life, it is a bill well done.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2016 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, we will be supporting the bill before us, which would provide an exemption from drug possession charges when someone calls 911 to report an overdose. It is a simple, common-sense, proven policy that will save lives. I thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for bringing the bill forward.

We know all too well how desperately our communities need action to end this crisis. As the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo mentioned, British Columbia's health officer has declared a public health emergency. This is the first time that such emergency powers have been used. The province took this step, because in the first three months of this year, there have been more than 200 deaths from overdoses of fentanyl. At that rate, we could see 700 to 800 British Columbians dead by the end of this year. We are talking about an opiate that is exponentially more powerful than morphine or heroin.

We have seen provincial task forces created and police alerts issued in major cities across Canada. We know that this problem will not go away on its own. Indeed, it could get much worse.

Recently, police in Edmonton seized a shipment of white powder from China before it could be prepared for street sale. Lab testing revealed it to be a substance called W-18, a synthetic opiate that is unimaginably deadly. It is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. To put that in perspective, the amount seized recently in Edmonton, four kilograms, according to public health officials, is enough to kill every person in Alberta 45 times over.

However, this drug is so new that it has not yet been included in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Therefore, it is clear that in the face of such a complex crisis, many things need to be done, and done quickly. Bill C-224 is one essential step, and we must take it without delay.

One study cited by the Pivot Legal Society suggested that most people who witness an overdose do not call 911. Fear of arrest for drug possession is one barrier among many, but it is one that we have the power to lift.

This is a step that many jurisdictions have already taken. In the United States, New Mexico was the first to pass a good Samaritan law in 2007, and 31 states have followed suit. By all accounts, these laws have been successful in reducing the fear of police involvement as a barrier to calling emergency assistance during an overdose.

We need to do more, as well, to ensure that drugs that counteract opiate overdoses are more readily available where they are needed. Naloxone was delisted by Health Canada on March 22. This followed the unanimous recommendation of 130 community groups, health experts, and other groups. However, this still leaves it up to the provinces to ensure broader access.

In B.C., naloxone is now available without a prescription and is in the hands of almost all EMS personnel. In Alberta, more than 500 pharmacies are offering free kits without prescriptions. However, access is not as open in some other provinces, where it is still available only to trained responders, or through a doctor's prescription to friends and family of opiate users. Furthermore, cost and access in rural areas still present barriers to saving lives from overdoses.

There remains a federal role to play in encouraging access to easier forms of dosage, for instance, replacing an injection with a nasal spray. Of course, we must also do more to prevent overdoses by increasing awareness about fentanyl-laced street drugs and by reducing its availability by tackling illegal production.

On the former, I note, for example, the recent initiative by Toronto Public Health to create a simple website, ReportBadDrugsTO.ca, to allow fast, anonymous reports of tainted street drugs so that warnings can be spread immediately to opiate users through community agencies. On the latter, I note the recent introduction in the Senate of Bill S-225 by Senator Vernon White. This bill would add the ingredients of fentanyl to the schedule of controlled precursors in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Together with the provinces we must do more to control the use of highly addictive prescription opioids. These initiatives must be considered as elements of a broader response by all levels of government to a crisis that is overwhelming too many communities.

The bill deserves to be praised in the context of removing the ideological blinders of the previous Conservative government and instead adopting the evidence and public health based approach to drug policy for which New Democrats have long been proud advocates.

I salute here the work of Libby Davies, the former member for Vancouver East, who has been a powerful advocate for harm reduction, public health, and safer communities for many years.

If we are to make this long overdue paradigm shift real it will take much more from the government. We need to see the government's promise to repeal Bill C-2 honoured and to support supervised consumption sites. We need to see a review of criminal justice laws, including mandatory minimum sentences in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. That, as we saw in the Supreme Court just days ago, may not only be costly and ineffective but also unconstitutional.

I know I speak for many communities when I say that this is not an issue that we can afford to leave on the back burner. In communities across Canada, overdoses are an epidemic, and we need action now.

Just last week, the CBC printed an interview with a Winnipeg opiate user named Amanda. She reached out to reporters after a close friend died of an overdose. She said, “I've had 15 contacts on my phone and two of them die in three days. That's scary enough, that says it all.”

There are many things we can do to help Amanda and the thousands of Canadians struggling with addictions and to renew and strengthen the health and safety of the communities they call home. This is one step we can take now, and I believe we should do it without delay.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2016 / 1:50 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I will keep my comments short, but I would first like to address the member's concerns in regard to W-18. We know it is a very powerful drug that has caused a great deal of damage to society. I can assure the member that the Government of Canada has acted very quickly on it. It is now on the illegal substances list. That means it is illegal in Canada for production, possession, importation, exportation, and trafficking. All of that is now illegal for the W-18 drug. We see that as a good thing, showing that the government can respond to incidents of this nature.

I want to compliment our colleague, the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for the efforts he has put in to provide us with Bill C-224 today. It should be acknowledged that through the efforts of the member he will in fact be saving lives if we pass the bill. There seems to be a will of the House to give it, potentially, unanimous support. That speaks volumes.

We have a member who recognized just how important the good Samaritan bill on drug overdose is not only to the community he represents but the community as a whole. I did get a chance to go over the comments the member provided and listen to the two examples. They were both young people, one in Ontario and one in Saskatchewan. These types of stories of overdoses and unnecessary deaths are very sad and tragic. It happens today in a very real and tangible way.

I rise with pleasure to indicate not only my support, but the government's support for Bill C-224 in hopes that we will ultimately see unanimous support.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2016 / 1:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise at the end of this debate to acknowledge and thank the many members on both sides of the House who have risen in support of Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act, many of whom have shared with us their personal, powerful stories about why the bill is so important. This support has resonated not only on a multi-partisan basis throughout the House but throughout Canada as well, from coast to coast to coast.

We have, for instance, received strong expressions of support from the ministers of health in several provinces. In B.C., there is support from the B.C. chief coroner and the B.C. public health officer, as many have noted already, who has just recently declared a public health emergency due to the surge in overdose deaths, a dramatic increase that has in fact echoed across the whole country.

In my own tri-cities community as well, a great many of our local public officials have stepped up, from the mayors of each of the tri-cities to school board trustees and a large number of city councillors. Indeed, Port Coquitlam city council passed a unanimous resolution of support.

We have heard from police, firefighters, and paramedics as well, for first responders know that they can only save lives if they actually get the call. We have heard from religious leaders and ordinary citizens, as well as, throughout the country, families of victims who might have lived if only someone had picked up the phone and made that call a little earlier. By providing limited immunity from simple possession charges, we would remove a significant barrier to making that call. This means more lives will be saved and more people will live to have a chance to make better choices.

In my opening speech, I spoke of Austin Padaric and Kelly Best, two young men who tragically died too young and who might have lived if someone had made that call earlier. Austin and Kelly are just two of the all too many unfortunate victims throughout this land who on a daily basis needlessly die because someone was afraid to call for help. Austin and Kelly, let these names stand now on behalf of all those victims through all the years, but better yet, let them stand as well for all of those we might yet save in the years to come by passing this bill.

The bill will not end the scourge of drug overdoses and we will not end the intolerable toll of death, but surely, we can stem the rising tide. We will not slay this dragon in this one fell blow, but we can bring it to its knees.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

May 4th, 2016 / 7:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

moved that Bill C-224, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (assistance — drug overdose), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act, this evening. This bill amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act with respect to assistance during a drug overdose.

Three subclauses in this bill have a big impact on Canadians, and Bill C-224 will save lives.

Let me tell members about Austin Padaric. Austin was a typical 17-year-old high school student. He lived in Heidelberg, in rural Ontario. An athlete, Austin was passionate about sports, skateboarding, hockey, and all things outdoors.

Those of us who are parents worry about our teenagers and what they get up to with their friends and acquaintances. However, when I spoke with Austin's mother recently, there was no worry about Austin. He was a good kid.

Austin was just a typical high school student, but we cannot ignore the fact that kids experiment at parties. One night, he attended a gathering in rural Ontario and made a decision that so many young people make. He took some drugs that night.

In the wee hours of that morning, Austin showed signs of distress. He was overdosing. Timely medical attention could have saved his life, but his acquaintances decided not to call 911. They figured they could handle it themselves. They placed him in a bathtub of cold water. When that did not work, he was put into bed on his side, where he stayed until the next morning. When they woke up and checked on him, they thought he looked dead. That is when they called 911.

Austin died seven days later, in hospital, with his parents, brother, and extended family at his side. A timely call to 911 could have prevented this tragedy.

That is the point of this bill.

Let me tell members about Kelly Best from Saskatoon. He, too, was a young man full of promise, full of hopes, and dreams. This was another young life tragically cut short.

He, too, took some drugs with a friend and began to overdose. The friend panicked, texted other friends about what to do and, eventually, phoned his dad, who immediately called 911. The delay was about an hour. It was fatal.

The friend had a small amount of drugs on him and did not want to go to jail.

Austin Padaric and Kelly Best, two names, one story, both had tragic outcomes. They paid the ultimate price. These kids did not have to die.

Their story is far too common. Yet, it is a story heard over and over again, like a broken record. There are many more names, many more needless, pointless deaths, but the same story. This needs to stop.

When I first heard these stories, I asked a very simple question. Why did anyone not bother to call 911 earlier?

The typical reason is that they were scared, scared that they, themselves, would get into trouble. They did not want to go jail. They did not want a fine or a criminal record.

Fear of prosecution is the largest barrier to people calling for help in an overdose situation. In fact, according to a 2012 Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council report, in the absence of a law such as this, 46% of respondents would either not call for help or would call and run. That is tragic and that is the point of the bill.

That is why a significant majority of U.S. states have passed legislation of this kind. In a study in Washington state, where this has been law since 2010, 88% of respondents said they would call for help because of the protection in law.

At last count, 36 states, plus the District of Columbia, have similar legislation on the books. Even states that are prone to a tough-on-crime approach, such as Alaska and Louisiana, have moved forward with such laws. Recently, Michigan's good Samaritan law passed unanimously. While the specifics vary slightly from state to state, the underlying intent is the same, for some things are crystal clear: delay means death and seconds matter.

They also recognize that it is hard to learn from being dead. These laws are a turning point in the way drug policy is understood. Harm reduction actually works. It reduces harm. Every life saved is an opportunity for people to get the help they need, an opportunity to make better choices and move forward with life.

In Canada, our laws are a bit behind.

In Canada, we have been a little slow in helping to stop the harm caused by drug overdose, where people like Austin or Kelly could otherwise have lived, but that is not to say that there have not been calls for good Samaritan drug laws. The Waterloo report I just noted illustrates the barriers to calling 911 in the event of a drug overdose. It clearly highlights the need. It identifies that criminal justice response is the most significant barrier to calling 911.

This report also shows that in the U.S.A. good Samaritan drug laws are the most widely recommended policy response to alleviating barriers to 911, laws such as the bill now before the House. The bill would provide limited legal immunity from drug possession prosecution for people who are involved in an overdose incident, who witness an overdose, and would encourage them to do the right thing, to call for help, to save a life.

The work done by Waterloo is echoed in other reports across Canada. The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition also identified this as an issue and has made very similar recommendations. The compelling argument is that most overdoses occur in the presence of others. That noted Waterloo study also points to statistics from 2003 showing that 61% of drug overdose deaths occurred in the presence of others. That means that 61% of the time, there was someone else present who could have called for help, but witnesses, far too often, hesitate or waver on whether to call for help. In many cases, they just do not. What is even more frightening are cases where people are put in alleyways, abandoned on the street, or dropped off at a hospital emergency with no explanation.

In January of this year, a report to the British Columbia coroner stressed the importance of a bill such as this. It highlighted the critical importance of working to develop strategies to promote calling for help.

In more alarming recent news from B.C., Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s provincial health officer, declared a public health emergency because of the alarming rise of drug overdose deaths. In January alone, there were 76 deaths due to drug overdose. At the current rate, Dr. Kendall estimates that B.C. could have up to 800 drug deaths by the end of this year. That is an average of more than two deaths each day, every day, in B.C. alone.

This has to stop. These are people's children, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends, and family. That is what this bill is for. It will not stop the overdoses, but surely, we can stem the toll of death.

Dr. Kendall and B.C.'s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, both support this bill because it would reduce barriers and save lives. In my own riding, Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam's school district no. 43 trustees, Judy Shirra and Michael Thomas, support this bill. The city of Port Coquitlam unanimously passed a resolution supporting it. Coquitlam's mayor and many Coquitlam councillors support it as well.

I have spoken and met with Coquitlam firefighters; Port Moody mayor, Mike Clay; and Port Moody's police chief, Constable Chris Rattenbury, who in fact sent a video endorsement expressing his own support. Port Coquitlam's firefighters sent a letter of support. First responders agree that their first priority is to save lives, but they can only do that when they are called.

The Government of British Columbia's minister of health wrote to me expressing the importance of this legislation. These are among the growing number of Canadian jurisdictions that recognize that drug overdose deaths are becoming epidemic and need action now to start saving lives.

It is time we listen to Canadians and take our own advice. In a 2014 report on prescription drug abuse, the House Standing Committee on Health recommended considering good Samaritan drug overdose legislation. This bill is precisely that. It is simply about saving lives.

This bill is about giving people the tools they need to make life saving decisions in a time of crisis. It would make it okay to call for help. Many members of this House recognize this. That is why the NDP member for Vancouver East seconded the bill and many more members on both sides of the House have rallied behind it. I thank them all for their robust support. They are showing that they too want to stop the harm.

I ask all members for their support to demonstrate to all Canadians that we know that lives are worth saving, to show that we value life over death, life over punishment, and support over fear.

The purpose of this bill is to ensure that people are not afraid to call for help and, thus, to save lives.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

May 4th, 2016 / 7:55 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for bringing this bill to this House. I thank him also for his heartfelt comments. For all of us who are parents, we can only imagine the pain that a person goes through for a senseless loss, for something done by a youngster who is going through life. So often what youngsters do is experiment and in that process lose a life. I can imagine the pain and suffering a person can go through. Having to endure that is for something that my heart goes out to every single parent.

There is something monumental about the bill brought forward by the hon. member. It would change the course of things in that there would be an opportunity to save a life. That is the whole purpose behind this bill.

Substance misuse, as we know in Vancouver East, is the major issue in my community. There was a point in time in the early 1990s when there were 1,000 crosses planted in Oppenheimer Park. Each one of those crosses commemorated the loss of life, a brother, son, or daughter. We called for harm reduction initiatives and we fought for it. It took so long and we finally got the first North American supervised injection facility.

To that end, in terms of harm reduction, this is a continuum of that effort. I want to thank the member for bringing this forward. I want to ask him, what else we can do? How else can we work together, collaboratively, to extend the measures of harm reduction to ensure that we put evidence first to save lives?

Will the member also work with us to call on the government to repeal Bill C-2?