Mr. Chair, I have listened to this debate right from the very start and I appreciate our colleagues sharing their stories and coming at this from a point of respect.
It is interesting to stand here and talk about a national crisis, which is really truly what we have today.
I will gear most of my speech towards the impact that this crisis is having on my province of British Columbia. British Columbia has had a significant number of deaths each month, approximately 100 deaths per month. Last January our minister of health called on her federal counterpart for help with this issue. She asked the federal government to declare this a national health crisis.
I heard some of the arguments and talking points from our government friends. I listened intently to our friends in the NDP. I listened to the passionate speeches given by my friend from Sarnia—Lambton as well as my good friend from Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. It is clear that we are not there yet. We still have a crisis. People are still dying every day.
I listened to a comment by the government House leader. I hope she was not heckling me.
We cannot stand up and say we are winning this war. I get it. I understand this is an election year and government members are standing up and saying their government has pledged $350 million for this. This is a take-note debate. We should be listening. The government should be taking notes. We should be trying to move forward. We should be having a healthy discussion.
I will bring us back to the very first emergency debate that we had here in the House after the last election. It was on the suicide epidemic on Attawapiskat First Nation.
I do want to offer this before getting more heckles from anybody across the way. I have come to this debate with some personal experience in terms of a loss from an overdose.
I will bring members back to the debate that we had when our colleague from Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam brought forward his good Samaritan bill, Bill C-224. In that debate I talked about a day in 2008 when I received a call that my brother, who was not a drug user, was found deceased from an apparent overdose. It is still to this day hard to discuss. I strongly believe that our colleague's Bill C-224, the good Samaritan bill, will save lives. It allows people who are with someone who may overdosed or is struggling with some form of massive intoxication from some form of drug to dial 911 and ask for help knowing that they themselves will not be prosecuted.
Since 2016, over 8,000 Canadians have lost their lives because of this. In 2012, the death toll from fentanyl or opioids in British Columbia was 42, and right now we are sitting at over 1,000 in 2018 alone. This is a crisis like we have never seen before.
This past March was the worst month in B.C.'s five-year-old fentanyl crisis. There were 162 deaths. As a matter of fact, the week of July 23 was the worst week for Vancouver Fire and Rescue. It responded to 147 overdoses.
In preparation for this debate, I talked with a friend of mine who is with the RCMP. I also talked with a friend of mine who is with Vancouver Fire and Rescue. I asked if safe injection sites were helping. They did say that safe injection sites probably do help. However, they said that it probably helps those who are on the streets more so than the blue collar worker or the teenager, or the real estate agent that died recently of an overdose, who did not know what was in the drugs. They said the challenge that we have, and I do not think I have heard this brought up yet, is the drug is getting across our border. We are powerless.
People can say what they want about President Trump but at the G20 recently, he managed to get China to designate fentanyl as an illegal substance. I have to get the exact words. It is a controlled substance, “China agrees to make fentanyl a controlled substance after talks with the U.S. at G20 summit.” That means that people from China who sell fentanyl to the U.S. will be subject to China's maximum penalty under the law. We need to get tough on this ourselves.
To give an example of what we are dealing with here, fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than heroin. A dose the size of a grain of sand can kill. When prescribed by doctors, it is prescribed in the millionths of a gram. If someone takes ibuprofen for a headache, the dosage is usually around 400 milligrams. Imagine cutting that pill into 400 pieces. Fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than heroin.
It has been described as readily available to purchase on the Internet, that it is as simple as ordering a book from Amazon. That is how easy it is to get. A kilogram of fentanyl over the Internet costs around $23,000. A kilogram of fentanyl would be about the size of a cantaloupe, and on the streets that kilogram which costs $23,000 sells for $20 million.
That is the problem we have today. We need to be investing in things that will help us along the way, but we need to get people the treatment they need. Is a blue collar worker who is addicted to fentanyl going to check into a safe injection site? What about that real estate agent? What about a high school student who is at a rave or a party and ingests something, and he or she has no idea what he or she ingested?
It is now found in marijuana. It is found in cocaine. It is found in ecstasy. It is found in crack. It is coming across our borders, and we seem to be powerless to stop it. I would offer, respectfully, that our first line of defence is to make sure that this drug does not come into this country. We have to make it tougher for those who are importing it. We have to make it tougher for those who are selling it.
We have to educate Canadians that it could be found in anything they are trying. How many times do we have to pick up the newspaper and read about a teenager who went to a party or who was on a party bus and ingested a pop or a drink and overdosed? That is the reality. That is what we are hearing.
I do not have the answers. The people I have talked to who have been tasked to save lives, whether it is the RCMP or other police officers, say that safe injection sites may help, but we need to get people the treatment. We need to get beds. We need to stop the drug from coming into our country. When drugs the size of a grain of sand can kill, we have to do whatever we can to stop them from coming into our country. With that, I will cede the floor.