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.

HealthOral Questions

November 2nd, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his work and his tireless efforts in this matter. Like him, I was extremely disappointed yesterday when I heard the opposition leader's outdated belief. Unlike the Conservatives, our government is actually supporting law enforcement where it matters. Rather than prosecuting those with mental health and addiction issues, we are disrupting illegal drugs at the border and diverting people out of the criminal justice system.

With Bill C-37 and C-224, our government is taking a compassionate, evidence-based approach to reduce barriers to treatment and encourage innovative measures to prevent overdoses and save lives.

October 3rd, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

This is a coordinating amendment, following along from the addition of clause 8.1 earlier in this process. It brings the language that was introduced into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act with the passage of Bill C-224, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, concerning the use of the word “overdose” to instead use the phrase “medical emergency”. This will bring the CDSA into conformity with the newer language incorporated into this act by means of clause 8.1.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clauses 196 to 199 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 200)

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act. It was Bill C-224.

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Chair, the purpose of this amendment is to bring the provisions of my private member's bill, Bill C-224, to bear on this legislation. As you remember, Bill C-224, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which received royal assent in May and passed all stages in both Houses—I believe, unanimously—amended the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to exempt from charges for simple possession, certain breaches of conditions, and so forth, people who seek emergency medical or law enforcement assistance for themselves or another person in the event of an overdose.

This is working, and it is an effective tool to help stem the tide of death that pertains to overdoses in this country. However, should this bill pass and receive royal assent, cannabis would be removed from the scope of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and the provisions of that act would no longer apply to cannabis, which means that those exemptions would no longer apply to cannabis.

What this amendment would do is it would add into this section those self same exclusions that were previously introduced and passed in the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.

We have also suggested a minor change. The word “overdose” is sometimes confusing to people. They don't know necessarily whether a particular medical situation is in fact an overdose, and so they are reluctant to make the call. This would change the language to “medical emergency” as opposed to using the word “overdose”.

I think this avoids for us a situation where someone who might be in possession of marijuana but in a circumstance where someone has been called in relation to, say, an opioid overdose is subject to possession charges that would take from them the incentive to call for help, which is really what we want to do. We want to encourage people to call for help when help is needed.

I hope for support from the committee for this amendment.

Resuming DebateControlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

May 15th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Markham—Stouffville Ontario

Liberal

Jane Philpott LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the wonderful opportunity to speak to the amendments adopted in the Senate relating to Bill C-37. This is an act, as we know, to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and to make related amendments to other acts.

Before I begin, I thank my colleagues in the House and the Senate for their work on the bill to date, for reviewing this important legislation, and for recognizing the urgency of the issue. I particularly want to thank all my colleagues who supported getting the bill through the House as quickly as possible.

This bill, as proposed, will help our federal government and its partners to combat the existing opioid crisis and deal with the more general drug problem in Canada.

For that reason, I urge my colleagues to support the bill so it can be adopted without delay and to help protect the health and safety of Canadians and their communities.

It is clear that we are in the midst of a national public health crisis. Last year in British Columbia, more than 900 people died from illicit drug overdoses. If trends continue in 2017, we can expect 1,400 people in British Columbia to die this year as a result of overdoses.

However, British Columbia is not alone. In Alberta, close to 500 people died from overdoses in 2016.

We are also seeing signs that the opioid crisis is spreading to other parts of Canada.

For example, seizures of fentanyl have increased in almost every province over the last year.

Our government is responding. We are taking actions that are compassionate, collaborative, comprehensive, and evidence-based in our approach to drug policy. Our aim is to take a public health approach to addressing the opioid crisis and problematic substance use in general, while also ensuring law enforcement officials have the tools they require to keep communities safe.

That is why, last fall, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and I announced the new Canadian drugs and substances strategy.

This new strategy replaces the previous approach by addressing problematic substance use as primarily a public health issue, restoring harm reduction as a key pillar of Canada's drug policy, alongside prevention, treatments, and enforcement, and supporting all those pillars from a strong evidence base.

Bill C-37 and the revised amendments our government proposed support this strategy by updating the law to focus on harm reduction measures.

Streamlining the application process for supervised consumption sites is central to this legislation.

Solid evidence shows that, when properly set up and maintained, supervised consumption sites save lives, and they do it without increasing drug use or crime in the neighbourhood.

To this end, Bill C-37 proposes to amend the current legislation in two ways. It will establish a streamlined application process that aligns with the five factors set out in the Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2011, in Canada vs. PHS Community Services Society. It will also improve the transparency by requiring decisions on supervised consumption site applications to be made public, including reasons for denying such an application.

We need to create an environment that encourages communities that want and need these sites to apply for them. I can assure the House that Bill C-37 and the revised amendments our government is proposing will ensure that communities that want and need these sites do not experience unreasonable delays in their efforts to save lives.

The first amendment specifies that should the Minister of Health choose to post a notice to seek further public input regarding an application, the public should have a minimum of 45 days to provide feedback.

Some members, and indeed members of the public as well, have questioned why we are accepting this Senate amendment. To be clear, the ministerial authority to post a public notice regarding an application for up to 90 days exists under the current legislation. Bill C-37, as introduced by our government, made that time period more flexible but retained the optional nature of the posting and the optional nature of an extra consultation. The only thing that would change with the Senate's amendment is that should a public notice for further consultation be posted, it must be posted for a minimum of 45 days.

Our government supports this amendment, as it would ensure that in the special cases where further community consultation was warranted, communities would receive a reasonable amount of time to provide comment on specific applications.

I will repeat that this consultation would not be required by legislation, and indeed, it would be the exception rather than the rule.

The second Senate amendment would give the Minister of Health the authority to establish citizen advisory committees for approved sites where deemed necessary.

Our government understands the intent of this amendment. It could be to bring together supervised consumption sites and community members. However, adding this oversight of supervised consumption sites, which is not used for any other health service as a legislated requirement, would further stigmatize their clients and potentially reduce the use of these critical facilities. As such, we respectfully disagree with this amendment.

The final amendment adopted by the Senate would require that clients of supervised consumption sites be offered an alternative pharmaceutical therapy before they consumed substances at the site. While the intention of this amendment may be to encourage the provision of evidence-based treatment options to people who use drugs, it is critical that the application process for supervised consumption sites not be hindered by additional federal requirements for immediate access to treatment services. This could impose an additional burden and make it more difficult to establish and operate supervised consumption sites.

As written, this amendment could result in charter challenges on the grounds that an individual's safety and security could be jeopardized if that person could no longer access the services offered at a supervised consumption site. It also represents significant jurisdictional issues, since it could be construed as regulating a health service or clinical practice.

In addition, repeated offers of pharmaceutical treatment could actually discourage people who are not yet ready to begin treatment from using supervised consumption sites. This would be counter to the aim of supporting communities that need these sites to save the lives of their community members.

For these reasons, our government proposes that we amend the wording to say “may” instead of ”shall” and remove subsection 2 of this amendment.

For all the reasons I just outlined, our government does not support the amendment to the motion moved by the member for Oshawa.

I also want to remind the House that this bill includes other important initiatives, because the opioid crisis is a complex problem that requires a comprehensive response.

The pathways to addiction are numerous, but they are connected through their origin in personal pain, whether that be mental or physical pain. These issues are all too often exacerbated by multiple social determinants of health, including poverty, homelessness, and lack of access to economic resources, making the reality of addiction and the path to recovery all the more difficult to navigate.

To add to this complexity, the drug environment in Canada has changed drastically in recent years. Strong drugs like fentanyl, carfentanil, and other analogs have made their way into Canada, and they are often being disguised as prescription drugs like Percocet or oxycodone, or they are mixed with other less potent street drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.

With that in mind, l would like to take this opportunity to specifically discuss the Senate amendments with respect to establishing supervised consumption sites.

This crisis is impacting high-risk, long-term drug users as well as recreational drug users who do not expect that the drug they are using could contain fentanyl. As we all know from the devastating local news reports across this country, the crisis is also affecting young people who are experimenting with drugs. That is why, in addition to important provisions regarding supervised consumption sites, Bill C-37 also includes proposals that would modernize the current legislative framework and create new law enforcement tools to confront the ongoing crisis.

For example, Bill C-37 proposes legislative measures to prohibit the unregistered import of pill presses to Canada. If passed, it would allow border officials to open international mail of any weight should they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the item may contain prohibited, controlled, or regulated goods. As well, it would grant the Minister of Health the necessary powers to quickly temporarily schedule and control a new and dangerous substance.

It is important to point out that Bill C-37 and the revised amendments our government is proposing are part of a suite of vital measures that our government has taken to combat the opioid crisis. For the benefit of the members, I think it is worth mentioning some of our government's other initiatives.

We have made naloxone available without prescription, and we have expedited the review of naloxone nasal spray to ensure that multiple formats are available to Canadians. We have granted exemptions to Insite and the Dr. Peter Centre to operate supervised consumption sites in Vancouver, and we have now issued exemptions for a total of three supervised consumption sites at fixed locations in Montreal and are expediting reviews for the approval of 18 additional sites in 10 cities: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Surrey, Ottawa, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Kelowna, and Kamloops.

Our government has also rescinded the prohibition on access to an important treatment option, prescription heroin, to treat more serious addictions.

We have finalized new regulations to control chemicals used to make fentanyl, making it harder to manufacture illegal substances in Canada, and we have supported the passage of the important Bill C-224, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which I am pleased to say achieved royal assent on May 4. Finally, we are providing $100 million in federal funding to support the Canadian drugs and substances strategy, as well as an additional $10 million in emergency funding to British Columbia and $6 million in emergency funding to Alberta.

It is important that members understand that there is no single action that will end this opioid crisis immediately. There is no single law or policy that will do so. It requires comprehensive, urgent action. The adoption of the amendment our government is now proposing and making Bill C-37 law would be, however, a very important step forward in supporting a new approach to drug policy in Canada.

As proposed, this legislation would give our government and law enforcement agencies more effective tools to fight problematic substance use and provide more support to communities that are battling this crisis locally.

The amended legislation would also help our government work with partners to implement an evidence-based approach that is comprehensive and collaborative. Therefore, I encourage all members to support Bill C-37 and our approach to the Senate's amendment in order to protect Canadians and save lives. I thank my colleagues for their important work in this regard, and I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to discuss it.

Royal AssentOral Questions

May 4th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the schedule to this letter on the 4th day of May, 2017, at 11:30 a.m.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Wallace

The schedule indicates that the bills assented to were Bill S-201, an act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination, and Bill C-224, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (assistance — drug overdose).

Now I believe the hon. opposition House leader has the usual Thursday question.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2017 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to express to you my thanks for so many dedicated women and men, in the House administration and at the library, for their incredible work. Without them, Bill C-224 would not have achieved the success it has had up until now.

In particular, I want to thank Marc-Olivier Girard at the private members' business office, Isabelle D'Souza and Wendy Gordon at the office of the law clerk, and Michael Dewing at the Library of Parliament.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2017 / 5:55 p.m.
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Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today to support private member's bill, Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act, including the amendments made in the Senate. These amendments bring further clarity to the bill and they expand the circumstances where immunity would be provided to increase the likelihood that bystanders would seek emergency help during an overdose, expanding the opportunities for the bill to safe lives.

Simply put, the bill would help to address the systemic barriers that would prevent many Canadians from seeking help from first responders during an overdose. Their fear is that they may be charged and convicted of drug possession once first responders arrive.

I want to take this opportunity to commend my colleague, the member of Parliament for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, for bringing this important bill forward and for proposing a simple legislative change that would help save lives. His work on the bill is an honour to him, the House, and to the people he represents.

As everyone in the House knows, we are in a crisis situation. Opioid related overdose deaths in Canada have increased at an alarming rate and we must continue to act to save lives.

In British Columbia alone, there were over 900 overdose deaths in 2016, and so far the rate of death from drug overdoses in 2017 sadly shows no sign of decreasing. There were 102 overdose deaths in B.C. in February of this year. This is an average of 3.6 deaths a day for that month. These are not just abstract numbers. Each one represents a Canadian who has lost his or her life in a way that is preventable.

Most overdoses occur in the presence of others and, like many other emergencies, a person's chances of surviving an overdose depends on how quickly he or she receives medical attention. Calls to 911 during an overdose are typically either not made or may be delayed to such an extent that the victim can suffer irreparable brain damage or other harms.

A 2014 report from Ontario found that only half of those surveyed said they would call 911 in the event of an overdose and wait at the scene for emergency personnel to arrive. This is consistent with international research where studies have found 911 call rates for overdose events to be as low as 15%.

At a recent forum discussion on the future of drug policy, the Minister of Health pointed out that as one part of responding to the opioid crisis, we needed to call out stigma and reduce the discrimination associated with drug use.

The high rates of drug overdose deaths we are seeing in the country and the low rate at which Canadians are willing to contact emergency services when they witness an overdose are unacceptable and clearly point to an issue that is being made worse by stigma and fear, the impacts of which must be addressed before we lose more lives.

The Government of Canada is supporting the response to this crisis through the new Canadian drugs and substances strategy, a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidenced-based approach. The strategy is built on four pillars—prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and law enforcement—and will also serve to improve the evidence base.

The good Samaritan drug overdose act is in keeping with our government's approach to drug policy. The elimination of drug possession charges for people seeking help for an overdose is a harm reduction measure that strikes a balance between public health and public safety. What is more, the implementation of this bill will provide the opportunity for law enforcement officers to strengthen their relationship of trust with drug users, a relationship that could put drug users in a safer environment and give them better access to treatment when they are ready to seek it.

As originally written, Bill C-224 guaranteed anyone experiencing or witnessing an overdose immunity from minor drug possession charges if that person contacted emergency services or law enforcement for help.

The Senate has made several amendments to the bill. Most of these amendments are meant to bring further clarity to the legal text so it can be more easily interpreted by law enforcement and the courts.

I will not spend too much time on these amendments except to say that the government supports them and that they certainly strengthen the Bill. For example, the proposed amendments make it clear that the law will protect those who call and leave the scene as well as those who arrive at the scene after the call has been made. In addition, the amendments clarify that witnesses to an overdose, as well as the person who has overdosed, will be provided with immunity under this proposed law.

The more substantive amendment proposed by the Senate would expand the immunity provided by Bill C-224 to include protection from charges for offences concerning a violation of a pre-trial release, probation order, conditional sentence, or parole relating to simple possession.

I understand that this broadened scope of the immunity provided under this good Samaritan bill may cause some of the members of this House to reconsider their support for this bill. However, we are in a crisis situation where preventable deaths are occurring daily. I urge all members of this House to maintain their support for this important piece of legislation.

The Government of Canada would not be the first to provide such immunity. In fact, 15 states in the U.S. have a good Samaritan drug overdose law that provides immunity from charges of possession as well as protections from probation or parole violations.

There is a simple reason why the Senate has proposed these amendments and why these 15 U.S. states have covered such violations under their good Samaritan laws. It is because fear of being charged for the possession of a controlled substance is only one reason why people are afraid to seek help during an overdose.

The Ontario report I mentioned earlier also looked at reasons why people were afraid to call for help during an overdose. The two most common barriers to calling 911 during an overdose event were fear of arrest, and being on parole. Of those respondents on probation or parole, only 37% indicated they would call emergency services and wait for help to arrive if they witnessed an overdose.

Extending the immunity guaranteed by Bill C-224 would increase the number of situations that could be a matter of life or death. However, this would not prevent law enforcement officers to focus on public safety and security efforts concerning the most serious offences, especially if officers were to discover the production or trafficking of controlled substances when they were called to the scene of a crime.

As many people have pointed out, fighting the current opioid crisis will not be an easy task. Passing the good Samaritan bill will not fix the whole problem, but it can be part of the solution and it is a big step in the right direction. I hope that all members of the House will join me in supporting this important bill.

I would again like to thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for his dedication and hard work. I am very proud to serve with him.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by thanking and congratulating my colleague from Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam. As the member for Gatineau pointed out earlier, I too was in the House for the first hour of debate on this bill. I heard his very moving testimony.

People sometimes forget that the issues our constituents bring to us and our political parties' positions are not the only things that motivate us in our work. Sometimes, we are motivated by very personal stories.

That is why it is so gratifying to see a member do so much to improve legislation about such an urgent public health issue. This is something we can all support, and the NDP is very pleased to do so.

I know there is no place for jokes in a conversation about such an important issue, but we also want to thank the Senate for its work. That is not something the NDP says a lot. I think these amendments are reasonable and improve the bill. We can continue to support the bill with these amendments, and we hope this matter will be acted upon quickly. This is something we have been waiting for for a long time.

We just heard from the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford from British Columbia, who has been working hard on this file, as well as the member from Alberta. People often think that this is an issue that concerns western Canada, and it is, as proven by the thousands of deaths that have occurred since the beginning of this public health crisis, that is, the opioid crisis. However, this crisis is making its way east. We recently began seeing cases in Ontario and Quebec. That is why it is important that we all work together to pass the necessary legislation to save lives.

We are talking about Bill C-224, the good Samaritan bill. As my Conservative colleague just clearly illustrated, people might wonder why anyone would not seek help when someone they are with, often a friend, has overdosed, whether in the context of a party or any other situation.

Obviously, the legal consequences may dissuade people from seeking help. Unfortunately, all too often, young people are the ones who suffer the consequences of substance abuse and the associated legal ramifications. It is therefore essential that we put in place a legislative framework to ensure that people are not afraid to ask for help. That is the least we can do.

The Senate proposed some very important amendments to clarify and improve this bill. The Senate changed some of the wording so that the bill provides clear explanations of the measures to protect against possession charges, which is the intent of the bill. We want to make sure that it is clear that anyone who is with the victim of an overdose, often a friend, and who calls 911 to get help for the victim will not suffer the legal consequences that would normally apply.

As part of its amendments, the Senate also proposed that overdose victims and those at the scene when help arrives be protected from being charged with an offence concerning a violation of pre-trial release, probation order, conditional sentence, or parole.

These are offences that do not pose a direct threat to the public, as my Conservative colleague pointed out earlier. For example, this type of exemption would not apply in a case of impaired driving. The types of violations targeted are those likely to be committed by a person who is at the scene of an overdose or who could, him or herself, be a victim requesting help. That is very important.

I want to come back to the question I raised earlier, because it often comes up during discussions on substance abuse or the use of certain illegal substances.

Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached. Consider the example of the debate surrounding the opioid crisis and safe injection sites. Whether we like it or not, there is a link between that and the bill currently before us. The question remains, and political courage is needed. That is why we are happy to see that the House supports this bill and the efforts made by our colleague, the bill's sponsor.

There is a misguided idea out there that we support illegal activities and encourage people's addictions. On the contrary, we want to tackle a public health problem. We want people who have health problems and who cannot find the support they need to get help. That is what we hope this bill achieves.

This is very important if we want to be able to address the crisis we are facing at this time. Indeed, as I have said, this often has an impact on young people. Even in the context of the debate on the legalization of marijuana, there is often talk of the importance of prevention, education and all of those issues. It is all very well and good to talk about the money that would be invested and to engage in prevention or educate people on the subject, but if there is no legislative framework to assure us that people will be able to get help, whether it be through the good Samaritan bill or safe injection sites, all of that is futile. It is very important to ensure that all the efforts made by the government or by Parliament via the various proposed bills are closely linked.

I will provide a few figures on the opioid crisis in British Columbia. I think it is important to share these statistics in order to illustrate the extent to which this is a public health issue. I am saying this as the NDP public safety critic. This is no longer a public safety issue, but rather an issue related to people’s health. In my view, it is the reason why we have to start studying evidence-based policies. On this subject, I recognize the efforts that are contained in this sort of bill.

I must acknowledge that, although we see this in the news, we do not necessarily see it in my riding, in our own backyard. For the people listening to us, I think it is important to demonstrate the extent to which this is a health-related crisis.

There was a record number of deaths in British Columbia in December. The number reported was 142. That was up from the previous monthly peak in November 2016, which was 128. That is enormous. In December, as the holidays were approaching, 142 families lost a loved one because we did not act fast enough. I believe that no one in the House, whatever their political allegiance, wants to continue in this direction and have this reality on our collective conscience. This is an unacceptable number of deaths.

In Vancouver, every week between 9 and 15 fatal overdoses are reported. It is scary and completely unacceptable. If we can support bills like this one and efforts like this, which will give us a legal framework to provide people with the help they are looking for, then we can transition into the government making further efforts. We would be prepared to support the right kind of progressive, fact-based efforts because that would help address this urgent health crisis and eradicate this scourge. I think that this is our collective responsibility.

Again, I want to thank my colleague from Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam. I want to reiterate how inspiring it is to see such incredible efforts being made for such a personal story. I also want to thank the Senate for its work to improve the bill. We hope that this is just the first step. We have to move forward and put an end to this public health crisis once and for all.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in strong support of Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act, as amended by the Senate and introduced by the hon. member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam.

I want to first commend the hon. member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, whom I have the privilege of serving on the justice committee with, for his leadership and stewardship in raising this important issue and moving this important legislation forward. Without more, Bill C-224 is a good bill, a needed bill, and a bill that would save lives. It could not be more timely. It could not be more timely, because Canada faces an opioid overdose crisis. It is a crisis that has claimed the lives of thousands of Canadians. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbours, colleagues are gone, taken. It is a crisis that has torn apart families and devastated communities. It is a crisis that is not slowing down.

The opioid crisis is particularly acute in my home province of Alberta. In 2016, Alberta emergency responders responded to some 2,267 fentanyl-related events and 343 Albertans died from a fentanyl overdose. That is up from 257 in 2015 and way up from the two dozen who died in 2012. Even more concerning is that we are seeing more and more potent opioids, such as powdered fentanyl, being pushed out onto our streets. Powdered fentanyl is 80 times more potent than morphine. The percentage of deaths in which fentanyl has been detected has increased from 5% in 2012, to 30% in 2015, to a staggering 62% in 2016.

The vast majority of drug overdoses occur in the presence of at least one other person and yet, far too often, individuals who witness a drug overdose do not do the right thing. They do not pick up the phone. They do not call 911 to get help. One may ask why someone would not call for help. The simple answer is that far too often they are afraid. They are afraid of being charged with a criminal offence. They are afraid of being caught up in the criminal justice system, so they do not call. They do not act, and the consequences of inaction can be fatal.

The Standing Committee on Health, which I know my colleague, the hon. member for Calgary Confederation, serves on, studied Bill C-224. As well, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs heard powerful testimony from Christine Padaric, the mother of the late Austin Padaric. Austin was a promising high school student. One night he went to a party and made a choice that a lot of high school students make: he took drugs. He reacted and Austin's friends did not call for help. They did not call 911. They thought they could handle it on their own. Perhaps they, in part, were worried about the police arriving, maybe charges being laid, and maybe being caught up in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, they were not able to handle it and as a result, Austin died at the age of 17.

Sadly, Austin is not alone. There are many Austins out there, and there will be many more Austins if action is not taken. That is precisely what Bill C-224 seeks to do. It is to prevent future Austins by providing immunity from prosecution for individuals who witness a drug overdose, do the right thing, call for help, and as a result of doing the right thing, are found to be in possession of illicit drugs.

It is important to note that Bill C-224 applies, in terms of immunity from prosecution, to only simple possession. It would not apply to other offences, such as impaired driving or drug trafficking. Moreover, it would only apply to offences listed in schedules I to III of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act: in other words, street drugs. What Bill C-224 would not do is provide immunity to drug pushers, drug dealers, and drug traffickers who are pushing dangerous and illegal drugs onto the streets that are killing thousands of Canadians each and every year.

Bill C-224 is legislation that makes sense. It went to the Senate and was amended in the Senate. I have to say that the Senate did a good job of improving Bill C-224, as the hon. member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam pointed out. There were amendments from the other place that would extend immunity from prosecution to breaches of release orders arising from simple possession. Those amendments make sense. They are consistent with the spirit and objective of Bill C-224. In that regard, I would submit that it does not make sense that a good Samaritan should be immune from prosecution on the basis of simple possession but then be charged for breaching a release order arising from the very same simple possession. That would be self-defeating.

While the good Samaritan drug overdose act is new to Canada, it is not a new concept. Indeed, some 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, have similar legislation on their books, and the legislation that has been passed in the U.S. is having the intended effect. More and more people are calling 911, and as a result, more and more lives are being saved.

I urge the speedy passage of Bill C-224 as amended. This legislation is needed. It is needed now. It is needed to save lives.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-224, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (assistance in overdose drugs) be now read a second time and concurred in.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand before you today to speak to Bill C-224, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting in the Senate gallery during report stage and third reading stage. The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs amended the bill in committee in order to correct the errors and omissions in the original version of my bill. The amendments to Bill C-224 are in line with my objectives and my intent in drafting the bill, and they clarify certain points.

They provide greater certainty for people who call 911 in the event of an overdose.

I have to thank the Senate for not only accepting my bill but, frankly, for making it better. They tightened up the language to ensure that a person who is being given assistance would not be charged, nor would anyone accompanying them be charged. That is the intent. As long as they are giving assistance they cannot be charged or convicted for possession.

Another Senate clarification makes it clear that both those who remain at the scene of the drug overdose and those who accompany the victim to seek medical assistance are also protected. Again, the Senate reinforced the language to ensure that the person suffering from an overdose is equally protected from prosecution.

If someone is suffering an overdose, or a friend comes to help, they may already be under some other court order for possession charges. The bill as amended by the Senate makes it clear this would not be held against them.

This was sober second thought in action. Senators have demonstrated once again that their collective scope and depth of knowledge really does make better law. I am grateful to Senator Larry Campbell for sponsoring the bill and to senators Murray Sinclair and Vern White for their amendments, which reflect their expertise in judicial proceedings and law enforcement.

In Senator Campbell's speech at third reading in the other place, he talked about the lives that have been lost in our home province. At the time he introduced the bill, he stated that 600 British Columbians lost their lives to drug overdoses, and by the end of 2016, 914 had died that year alone. We share the same hope that when this bill becomes law, this number will start to decline.

The scourge of overdose deaths is increasing across Canada, from coast to coast to coast, and the number of overdose deaths is rising. The bill will not fix the entire opioid problem. It only addresses one small piece of the puzzle. We all know that.

All members of the House and senators also know that to fight opioids in Canada, we, the legislators, must act quickly. That is why in its report the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs asked that the two chambers study Bill C-224 as quickly as possible.

Accordingly, here we are debating Bill C-224 today, because it was moved up in the order of precedence just one month after the Senate report.

I urge all my colleagues here in the House to come together today. Let us pass Bill C-224. We can send an important message to all Canadians that together we can start saving lives through a very simple action, by telling Canadians it is okay to call for help.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak in support of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

As members are aware, Canada is facing an opioids overdose crisis across this country. We have seen very troubling figures and have heard many tragic stories. As stated earlier in the House, British Columbia alone saw 916 illicit drug overdose deaths in 2016, an almost 80% increase from the year before. The majority of these overdoses are due to opioids. Other parts of the country have been impacted as well, with Alberta reporting 343 apparent overdoses related to fentanyl in 2016, which is an over 30% increase from the year before. While some areas have been more acutely affected that others, drug use is not unique to one part of the country, and the potential for this crisis to spread is very real.

Our government is committed to addressing this complex public health issue through a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to drug policy in Canada. To that end, the Minister of Health with support from the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice announced the new Canadian drugs and substances strategy on December 12 of last year.

This new strategy replaces the previous national anti-drug strategy with a more balanced approach for restoring harm reduction as a core pillar alongside prevention, treatment, and enforcement, and supporting these pillars with a strong evidence base. The Canadian drugs and substances strategy formalizes our government's commitment to taking an evidence-based and more appropriate health-focused approach to addressing problematic substance abuse in our country.

The bill before us would ensure a sound and modernized legislative base to support this new strategy. This comprehensive bill aims to balance protecting public health and maintaining public safety. It is designed to better equip health professionals and law enforcement with the tools they need to address this issue.

Specifically, this bill would improve the government's ability to support the establishment of supervised consumption sites as a key harm reduction measure in communities. It would address the illegal supply, production, and distribution of drugs, and reduce the risk of controlled substances used for legitimate purposes being diverted to the illegal market by improving compliance and enforcement tools.

In addition to introducing this new strategy, proposing this bill, and building on our five-point action plan, our government has taken and continues to take concrete steps to address problematic substance use. Since coming into office, our government has used all the tools available to address this issue.

One of the first steps our government took, as expressed by experts, was calling for an increase in availability of naloxone, a drug that temporarily reverses an opioid overdose. We acted quickly in this regard to remove the requirement to have a prescription to facilitate access to naloxone in March 2016. Further, our government completed an expedited review of an easier to use nasal spray version of naloxone, which, as of October 2016, is now approved for sale in Canada.

In the meantime, our Minister of Health used the extraordinary legal authorities available to her under the Food and Drugs Act to issue an interim order to allow the emergency import of naloxone nasal spray from the United States. This significant step has increased access for emergency responders and helps to address the growing number of opioid overdoses.

We have also demonstrated our support for the establishment of supervised consumption sites, a key harm reduction measure. Through a thorough and rigorous review in January 2016, Health Canada granted an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for the Dr. Peter Centre to operate as a supervised consumption site.

Not long after that, in March 2016, Health Canada granted Insite an unprecedented four-year exemption to continue its extremely important work in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver. Insite has demonstrated time and again through a countless number of peer-reviewed research studies that it saves lives without increasing drug use and crime in the surrounding area. This four-year exemption is a positive shift from the previous annual exemptions. Just last week, Health Canada issued three new exemptions for supervised consumption sites in the city of Montreal, the first such exemptions outside of the province of British Columbia.

I do want to briefly touch upon a concern that was raised in this House by the opposition, that the views of communities would no longer be important in the assessment of an application to establish a supervised consumption site. Let me be very clear; this was actually determined by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada determined that the Minister of Health must consider expressions of community support or opposition when reviewing such applications.

Our government is respecting the Supreme Court of Canada's decision by proposing to include these factors in this legislation. We support the need for community consultation in the application process for considering the establishment of supervised consumption sites. We understand and respect that communities may have valid concerns about a proposed site, and that these concerns deserve to be heard and should be adequately addressed by applicants in their applications. The proposed amendments would demonstrate that respect for communities is a multi-faceted issue. It means that the concerns of communities must be considered and addressed by the applicants. However, it also means that the federal government should not place any unnecessary barriers in the way of communities that need and want to establish supervised consumption sites as part of their local drug harm reduction strategy.

In order to combat this crisis head on, our government is also supporting private member's bill, Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act, a bill that would help encourage individuals who witness an overdose to call for emergency help. It would provide immunity from minor drug possession charges for individuals who experience or witness an overdose and call for emergency assistance.

The opioid crisis is something we know we cannot fix alone. We need collaboration with all levels of government, experts, and professionals. This is why we are committed to working with our colleagues across Canada to address the opioid crisis, from medical professionals to law enforcement partners.

In November last year, the Minister of Health co-hosted an opioid summit and conference along with the Ontario minister of health. The summit and conference brought together governments, experts, and key stakeholders to address the opioid crisis and to determine a path forward. Participants heard a number of perspectives on this crisis from people who use drugs, families devastated by opioid misuse, health care providers, first responders, educators, and researchers. Provincial ministers and heads of organizations with the ability to bring about change committed to a joint statement of action to address the opioid crisis. This joint statement of action reflects a combined commitment for each participant to work within respective areas of responsibility to improve prevention, treatment, and harm reduction associated with problematic opioid use by delivering on concrete actions. We will publicly report on the progress of these actions, starting in March 2017.

In conclusion, Bill C-37 is a key example of our government's commitment to establishing a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to drug policy in order to reduce the harms caused by drugs that are currently being experienced by individuals. One life lost to an opioid overdose is one too many. We need to take action now. As this bill would help save lives, I strongly encourage all the members in this House to support this very important piece of legislation.

Motions in amendmentControlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the government is doing all it can to respond to this crisis. The question allows me to point out a few things that this government has done.

Health Canada has issued a necessary exemption to Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux to provide three supervised consumption sites in Montreal, which took nearly two years under the previous government's 26 criteria in Bill C-2, and now we are moving forward with Bill C-37.

We have made the overdose antidote naloxone more widely available. We have provided an emergency interim order to allow the importation of bulk stocks of naloxone nasal spray from the United States. We have scheduled W-18 under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. We have scheduled precursors to fentanyl. We have supported Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act. We have enabled access to diacetylmorphine via Health Canada's special access program.

In addition, we have launched a five-point action plan to address opioid misuse, which focuses on better informing Canadians about the risk of opioids, supporting better prescription practices, reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids, supporting better treatment options, and improving the national evidence-based strategy. We also held a summit on opioids, resulting in 42 organizations bringing forward 128 concrete commitments to address the crisis. Also budget 2016 provides $50 million over two years, starting in 2016-17, to Canada Health Infoway to support short-term digital health activities in e-prescribing and telehomecare. That is just to name a few.

We have done a lot to respond to this opioid crisis, and Bill C-37 is one of the steps we are taking to respond to this crisis. I appreciate the member's support and work on Bill C-37.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 11:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton Centre.

I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other acts. My private member's bill, Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act, is currently in the other place. Just like Bill C-37, it is just one piece in the harm reduction tool kit that would help to save lives.

Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a key priority for this government. That is why on December 12, 2016, the Minister of Health, with support from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, introduced Bill C-37 in the House of Commons.

This bill makes several amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Customs Act in support of the government's efforts to respond to the current opioid crisis and problematic substance abuse in general.

This comprehensive bill aims to balance the important objectives of protecting public health and maintaining public safety. It is designed to better equip both health professionals and law enforcement with the tools they need to address the issue.

Over the last decade, the harms associated with problematic substances abuse in Canada have become more complex and have been changing at a rapid pace. The line between licit and illicit substances has blurred with the opioid crisis, prescription drug misuse, and the rise of new designer drugs.

The government has committed to helping Canadians affected by these problematic substances and their use. Legislative and regulatory controls are certainly an important part of this approach. However, as we know, drug use and dependency pose significant risks for individuals, families, and communities. Our approach to addressing problematic substances abuse must include preventing and treating addiction, supporting recovery, and reducing the negative health and social impacts of drug use on individuals and their communities through evidence-based harm reduction measures. This must also be a part of our approach to addressing problematic substances abuse.

Harm reduction is viewed by experts as a cost-effective element of a well-balanced approach to public health and safety. Harm reduction connects people to other services in the health and social systems related to treatment and recovery. It recognizes that individuals and whole communities benefit when people with substance misuse and addiction issues can obtain the support and services they need rather than being marginalized or stigmatized. The evidence regarding harm reduction is absolutely clear. Harm reduction measures are a critical piece of a comprehensive approach to drug control.

That is why the government is determined to take a balanced, evidence-based approach that supports rather than creates obstacles to harm reduction.

To that end, on December 12, 2016, in addition to introducing Bill C-37 in the House, the Minister of Health announced that a national anti-drug strategy would be replaced with a new, more balanced, and health-focused approach, called the Canadian drugs and substances strategy. The new strategy will strengthen Canada's approach to drug policy by providing a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to the protection of public health and safety and the reduction of harm from misuse of licit and illicit substances. To reflect the new health-focused approach, the strategy will be led and co-ordinated by the Minister of Health, in close collaboration with her colleagues.

Canada has had successive drug strategies in place since 1987 that have aimed to balance public health and public safety. In 1992, the government launched Canada's drug strategy, which was intended to reduce the harms associated with alcohol and other drugs to individuals, families, and communities. In 1998, harm reduction was added as a pillar alongside prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

However, the balance between public health and public safety in Canada's approach to drug policy shifted in 2007, with the release of the national anti-drug strategy. This strategy reflected the previous government's priorities of public safety, crime reduction, and safe communities.

The national anti-drug strategy focused primarily on youth and illicit substance use and did not retain harm reduction as a pillar. This shift brought Canada out of step with other like-minded countries, most of which include harm reduction in addressing problematic substance abuse.

The new strategy will retain and build upon the aspects of the national anti-drug strategy that worked well and, specifically, the new strategy will maintain the existing and well-established areas of prevention, treatment, and enforcement. These pillars, respectively, aim to prevent problematic drug and substance use, support innovative approaches to treatment and rehabilitation, and address illicit drug production, supply, and distribution.

However, perhaps the most important aspect of the new strategy is that it will improve upon the national anti-drug strategy by formally restoring harm reduction as a pillar. This shift to a more health-focused approach has been welcomed by stakeholders, including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and our provincial partners.

Our government is committed to ensuring that its policies under the new strategy will be informed by a strong foundation of evidence, including data related to harm reduction policies, programs, and interventions. This will enable the government to better identify trends, target interventions, monitor impacts, and support evidence-based decisions. It will help ensure that Canada has a comprehensive national picture of drug use and drug-related harms and can fully meet our international reporting requirements.

Even before the new strategy was announced, our government included harm reduction measures in our efforts to reduce the negative health and social impacts associated with problematic drug use, including the transmission of infectious diseases, overdose deaths, and stigma.

For example, under federal legislation, we have improved access to naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, by making it available without a prescription specifically for emergency use in cases of opioid overdose outside of hospital settings.

This important measure broadens access for emergency workers and will help address a growing number of opioid overdoses.

We have also demonstrated our support for the establishment of supervised consumption sites, a key harm reduction measure.

After a thorough and rigorous review, in January 2016, Health Canada granted an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for the Dr. Peter Centre to operate a supervised consumption site.

Not long after, on March 16, 2016, Health Canada granted Insite an unprecedented four-year exemption.

If passed, Bill C-37 would go further to support the implementation of evidence-based harm reduction measures. In particular, it would reduce the burden on communities that wish to apply for an exemption to operate a supervised consumption site.

The proposed amendments would streamline and simplify the application criteria, while ensuring that community consultation continues to be an integral part of the process. By streamlining the application and renewal process and adding a new transparency provision, applicants could be assured that the process would not cause unreasonable burden or delay.

In conclusion, our government's approach to drug policy strives to balance the important objectives of protecting public health and maintaining public safety.

The Canadian drugs and substances strategy will restore harm reduction as a pillar, alongside prevention, treatment, and enforcement, and will formalize our commitment to a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to Canada's drug policy.

It would mean that harm reduction-focused policies, such as support for properly established and maintained supervised consumption sites and increased access to naloxone, would now officially be part of Canada's drug strategy.

Implementing measures proposed in Bill C-37 would be a key step in realizing the objectives of the Canadian drugs and substances strategy.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

November 17th, 2016 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am truly honoured to stand today and talk about Bill C-307. I want to thank the member for Battle River—Crowfoot for allowing me to second this bill, for supporting me in terms of the debate, and for bringing forward this incredibly important issue. He did an excellent job talking about what the bill is about, what it will do, and why he has moved it forward. However, I will talk about a few areas that I do not think have been covered yet in this debate.

We have a record. Often when we hear we are number one or number two, it is something that we are very proud of. However, we are not and should not be proud of this particular record. Canada and the U.S. are the world's heaviest opioid users, with the rate of overdoses and deaths increasing dramatically. In 10 months in British Columbia alone we had 622 deaths. I wrote these notes yesterday. I had to revise that. It is now 623. This is in British Columbia alone. Of those, 322 have been related to fentanyl. Over 2,000 naloxone kits have been handed out, which is the antidote. Therefore, there were 2,000 potential overdoses and death might have been prevented with the use of the naloxone kits.

Back in September, I spoke in favour of the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam's bill, Bill C-224, the good Samaritan drug overdose act. At that time, I talked about a young man and his wife I knew. They had both died from an overdose, leaving behind a young baby. However, I want to give another face to this crisis. I think it is important to give faces to the crisis and that it is important for the government to hear this if there is any way that it will help. I will talk about some of the evidence later, but I hope the bill will at least go to committee to get the most up-to-date evidence and to really have it looked at.

There was a young man who lived in Kamloops named Paul. I knew Paul as a very young boy. He had the cutest little smile, and he was a hockey player. I watched him grow up from someone who tottered around on skates to someone who was very skilled in the arena. He was a very fine young man. I saw Paul in September. I was at a golf tournament. I had not seen him for a long time, and I chatted with him for a while. I asked him what he was up to. He had graduated from university, he had a job with the Investors Group, he had a girlfriend, he was smiling, he was happy, and he seemed to have the world by the tail. That was in September. In October of this year there was a wedding. Paul was a groomsman at this wedding and did his duties for the day. Then he made a fatal error. He kissed his mom, and he and four friends went upstairs to the hotel room and decided to ingest some drugs. That was a fatal mistake, a silly mistake, and the wrong thing to do. The groom noticed that his friends were missing and decided to go and find out what had happened to them. He went upstairs and five of them had overdosed on fentanyl. They were unconscious. What had been a joyous occasion ended in panic, mayhem, and tragedy. There were four who lived after being given the antidote naloxone. However, Paul's mom and dad had to come and say goodbye to him. This is our neighbour.

Today, we have the premier of British Columbia, we have the health minister here, and we have this conference happening. They have said that we are the face, the whole face, of this tragedy—and people need to recognize it is a tragedy. If it has not impacted members yet, we can only hope that it does not, because in the community where I am there is Ryan's mother, there is Jordan's mother, there are way too many who have tragically made a mistake that has ended in tragedy.

I do recognize that Bill C-307 is just one tool. We have talked about its tamper resistance and abuse deterrence. It is strictly one tool in the tool box, but it is a tool that could make a difference.

We have to have many strategies and I noted that one of the questions from the Liberals was about the importance of an overall strategy. Absolutely, we need an overall strategy, and I hope the conference over the next two days will get us to a better place with an overall strategy.

However, I want to point out that it did not stop the Liberals from moving forward with Bill C-224, which they recognized made sense. Again, I would suggest that it should not stop them from moving forward with Bill C-307 or at least taking it to the next step. We moved forward on naloxone, in terms of the nasal spray. We have moved forward in many ways. Just because there is a need for a comprehensive strategy does not mean that we should not move forward with this particular bill.

I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health talk about the evidence and the balloon effect. To be quite frank, the evidence is actually contradictory. She talked about the worry about a balloon effect, but she did not cite references. I will follow up to see what her sources were.

The New England Journal of Medicine, which is a very respected publication, had a study where the new formulation decreased abuse from 35% down to 12.8%. That is one piece of evidence that needs to be taken into account.

A lot of work has happened in Australia, which has shown a significant decrease. The study focused on 606 people who had regularly misused opioids and due to the tamper-resistant and abuse-deterrent formulation, there was a significant decrease in the misuse, without the balloon effect that Liberals talked about as their reason for not supporting this legislation. The balloon effect was not there. There was not a shift, in this particular study, to using other drugs. There are a number of studies that have shown that is not an issue.

There was another study done by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. Opioids were used 3,500 to 4,000 times a month and once they established the tamper-resistant and abuse-deterrent formulation, it went down to 500 in terms of usage.

What I would tell the Liberals is this is such an important issue and they need to look at this very carefully. They need to vote for it, at least at second reading, because when it gets to committee, they will be able to review the evidence. When the Americans made their decision, they had a lot of evidence and moved forward. The previous minister of health for the Province of Ontario regularly asked for Canada to move forward with this.

We would be missing an opportunity to review the latest evidence. Concerns have been expressed around pricing. Again, things have changed over the last couple of years. As a result of studies done by the House of Commons and the Senate, they recommended we move forward. Those studies are a couple of years old now, so it would give us the chance to review this in light of new evidence.

To sum up, this is not the be-all and end-all and I am hoping the conference tomorrow and much of the other work will help us at least get a handle on this. The tamper-resistant and abuse-deterrent formulation has a very important role to play and we should not miss this opportunity. This is for Jordan, Hardy, and Ryan. Today the premier, with one of the mothers, laid out 54 pictures for the minister to see. These are 54 of the 600-plus who have died in British Columbia in the last few years, deaths that can be prevented.

I support this bill. Let us check the research and evidence and send it to committee to see where we are at.