An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


Jane Philpott  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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

This enactment amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to, among other things,
(a) simplify the process of applying for an exemption that would allow certain activities to take place at a supervised consumption site, as well as the process of applying for subsequent exemptions;
(b) prohibit the importation of designated devices — unless the importation is registered with the Minister of Health — as well as prescribed activities in relation to designated devices;
(c) expand the offence of possession, production, sale or importation of anything knowing that it will be used to produce or traffic in methamphetamine so that it applies to anything that is intended to be used to produce or traffic in any controlled substance;
(d) authorize the Minister to temporarily add to a schedule to that Act substances that the Minister has reasonable grounds to believe pose a significant risk to public health or safety, in order to control them;
(e) authorize the Minister to require a person who may conduct activities in relation to controlled substances, precursors or designated devices to provide the Minister with information or to take certain measures in respect of such activities;
(f) add an administrative monetary penalties scheme;
(g) streamline the disposition of seized, found or otherwise acquired controlled substances, precursors and chemical and non-chemical offence-related property;
(h) modernize inspection powers; and
(i) expand and amend certain regulation-making authorities, including in respect of the collection, use, retention, disclosure and disposal of information.
It makes related amendments to the Customs Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to repeal provisions that prevent customs officers from opening mail that weighs 30 grams or less.
It also makes other related amendments to the Criminal Code and the Seized Property Management Act.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


May 15, 2017 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts
May 15, 2017 Failed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts (amendment)
May 15, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts
Feb. 15, 2017 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Feb. 14, 2017 Passed That Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
Feb. 14, 2017 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, not more than one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the said bill and not more than one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the said bill and, fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of each stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the report stage or the third reading stage, as the case may be, of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
Feb. 1, 2017 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Health.
Feb. 1, 2017 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Markham—Stouffville Ontario


Jane Philpott LiberalMinister of Health

moved that Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to begin debate today on Bill C-37 to address a serious and pressing public health matter, to improve public safety, and to protect the health of Canadians.

I am eager to work with all the MPs to help advance this important bill, in particular with my new parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Louis-Hébert.

This legislation is introduced in the context where Canada is facing a national public health crisis related to opioids, characterized by ever-increasing rates of harm, overdose, and death.

The opioid crisis raises many concerns, and the one we hear about perhaps most often is the rapid rise in the numbers of deaths from accidental overdose. Last year, in British Columbia alone, more than 900 people died from overdose. That is an 80% increase from 2015. The majority were linked to the swift spread of powerful drugs like fentanyl. Alas, the situation is getting worse. Last week it was reported that there were 20,000 overdoses in British Columbia alone. At a national level, deaths from overdoses are now more numerous than deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents.

Before I continue, I would like to extend my condolences to the families and friends who have lost a loved one. We share their grief. We are aware of the pressing need to turn the tide of this crisis as quickly as possible.

I would also comment at the outset that while the focus of the legislation is on immediate action to address the opioid crisis, we must bear in mind that lasting solutions require an understanding of the roots of the opioid crisis, which are messy, but not mysterious. It should be acknowledged, for example, that pain is a central theme at the heart of the drug crisis. Sometimes, problematic drug use begins with physical pain, but we must also admit that emotional pain is a factor in substance use. To fully resolve the opioid crisis we must address the multiple social drivers, including poverty, social isolation, childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and mental illness.

Addressing the roots of the crisis demands a whole of society response. It means calling out stigma and discrimination as barriers to accessing care. It means building a society where children receive tender attention and adults are not isolated and lonely. It means an international search for effective answers and being willing to discuss bold policy alternatives and the evidence associated with them. We must deal with this crisis comprehensively, collaboratively, and compassionately. We must assess what works and what does not work, and then we must do what works.

The crisis is moving eastward in Canada, with more drug seizures of fentanyl and carfentanil.

Canadians are increasingly aware that problematic substance abuse spares no one—people of all ages and from all socio-economic groups—and that it has devastating consequences on individuals, families, and communities.

In the past year, I have met with bereaved parents, people who use drugs, first responders, addiction specialists, mental health experts, indigenous leaders, health educators, and others to learn their perspective on the challenges we face. A complex, multi-dimensional social challenge of this nature demands timely, coordinated, and effective action.

Before I discuss the details of this proposed legislation, I would like to thank many members of this House who have been outspoken on the urgent need to respond together. I thank the member for Vancouver Kingsway for his support and advocacy on the issue, and especially for his calls to pass this legislation by unanimous consent.

I would also like to thank the Standing Committee on Health. Its members are actively working on this issue, and they made a series of recommendations that we reviewed carefully. We have acted on that. I look forward to responding formally to the committee report in due course.

There are many important components of this proposed legislation that would support communities and enhance public health and public safety when it comes to the use of drugs and substances. Bill C-37 would save lives. It needs to be passed without delay.

At this point, please permit me to outline some of the federal actions to date on the matter.

Early last year we made naloxone, the antidote to overdose, available without prescription. We arranged an expedited review of naloxone nasal spray and ensured an emergency supply for Canadians.

We granted an exemption to the Dr. Peter Centre in Vancouver to operate Canada's second supervised consumption site, along with an unprecedented four-year renewal of the exemption for Insite in Vancouver.

Last summer, we announced Health Canada's opioid action plan to improve education for the public and prescribers, to expand access to treatment, and to build the database.

In September, we overturned a ban on the use of prescription heroin, so that it is available to treat the most severe cases of addiction.

Our government has supported the good Samaritan overdose act to remove the fear of drug possession charges for individuals who call 911 when they witness an overdose.

We added regulations to schedule fentanyl precursors as controlled substances, making it harder for illicit substances to be manufactured in Canada.

In November, along with the Ontario Minister of Health, Eric Hoskins, I hosted a national conference and summit on opioids, which led to a joint statement of action to address the opioid crisis. That statement includes 128 separate commitments made by Health Canada, nine provincial or territorial health departments, and over 30 other organizations. In February we will provide Canadians with an update on the progress made so far regarding those commitments.

In work led by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the RCMP now has an agreement with China to combat the flow of illicit fentanyl.

Because this is a national crisis, we activated additional supports. In collaboration with the provinces and territories, we have established a special advisory committee on illicit opioids that includes the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health to advance information among jurisdictions related to the opioid crisis.

We have built a task force within the federal health portfolio to work with other federal departments in a comprehensive response to the crisis. We funded McMaster University to produce new evidence-based guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. They are now available for consultation.

We funded the Canadian research initiative in substance misuse to provide evidence-based guidelines for medication-assisted treatment; and with the support of the Prime Minister, we identified new federal funding of $5 billion over the next 10 years to address mental health and addictions. We know that untreated mental illness is a common cause of addiction, and early intervention is key.

We introduced the new Canadian drugs and substances strategy, to reinstate harm reduction as a pillar in Canadian drug policy and return the lead for drug policy to the Minister of Health.

In December, I introduced Bill C-37, which proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and other acts. This legislative framework is an important part of our comprehensive approach to drug policy. It aims to accomplish three important goals: one, to provide support for harm reduction, in particular the establishment of supervised consumption sites; two, to reduce the supply of illicit substances; and three, to reduce the risk of diversion of other legitimate controlled substances.

Evidence shows that, when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites in communities that want and need them will save lives and improve health without increasing drug use or crime rates.

Last year, I visited Insite in Vancouver to witness the important work it does to help vulnerable people and communities. I was moved by what I saw. Facilities like Insite promote health-seeking behaviour by introducing people who use drugs to the health system in a non-judgmental and non-stigmatizing manner. They have hygienic facilities and sterile equipment, and are supervised by qualified health professionals who provide advice on harm reduction and treatment options as well as prevention of overdose.

Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Minister of Health has the ability to provide exemptions to allow supervised consumption sites, but the Respect for Communities Act from the previous government introduced unnecessarily onerous requirements that must be met by communities before the Minister of Health could even respond to the request for an exemption.

We have heard desperate cries for help from communities most affected by the opioid crisis. They have indicated that the current requirements are burdensome and hinder their ability to offer services needed to reduce harm and to save lives. Currently there are applications being reviewed by Health Canada from across the country from communities such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

Proposed legislation would simplify and streamline the application process for communities that want and need to establish supervised consumption sites. It would replace the current 26 application criteria with the five factors outlined in the Supreme Court of Canada 2011 decision regarding Insite. In fact, the criteria in the proposed legislation are exactly those written in paragraph 153 of the Supreme Court decision.

A vital criterion that Bill C-37 retains is the requirement for community consultation. It would improve transparency by adding a requirement for decisions on applications to be made public, including reasons for denial.

To support these proposed changes, Health Canada would post new information online about what is required in applications, how to process works, and the status of applications.

To help keep opioids and other illicit substances off the street in Canada, we need to make sure that they are not easy to produce. To that end, the bill proposes to prohibit the unregistered importation of pill presses and encapsulators. This measure has been included in part because certain jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, have asked for it. While it is true that those devices do have legitimate uses, they can also be used to manufacture counterfeit drugs that contain dangerous substances, including fentanyl.

This legislation would also give Canada Border Services officers greater flexibility to inspect suspicious mail, no matter the size, that may contain goods that are prohibited, controlled, or regulated. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is of the utmost importance. The measure would only be for incoming international mail where the prevalence of illicit drugs is greater. In fact, just one standard size mail envelope can contain 30 grams of fentanyl, enough to cause 15,000 overdoses.

Lastly, the bill updates a number of provisions regarding compliance and enforcement of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order to modernize that piece of legislation. These legislative measures allow over 600 licensed dealers to manufacture, purchase, sell, distribute, import, export, and transport controlled substances for legitimate purposes.

The proposed amendments will allow Health Canada inspectors to conduct inspections in a variety of situations, especially in any location where it is suspected that any activities involving controlled substances are taking place. These amendments will help prevent the diversion of controlled substances to the illegal market.

Bill C-37 supports our government's new Canadian drugs and substances strategy, which the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and I announced on December 12. In the past, federal drug strategies aimed to balance public health and public safety objectives through key pillars of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and at times, harm reduction; but in 2006, under the national anti-drug strategy of the previous government, the harm reduction pillar was removed. Our government will pursue an evidence-based approach to drug policy. Accordingly, this new strategy would formally reinstate harm reduction as a key pillar, in addition to prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

It should be noted that the reintroduction of harm reduction does not diminish the importance of the other pillars. In particular, we must not let up on our efforts for prevention and treatment. I will continue to encourage the expansion of access to a broad range of treatment options, which are essential to reducing the number of overdose deaths. In reframing problematic substance use as the public health issue that it is, it returns the lead to the Minister of Health from the Minister of Justice.

In conclusion, the opioid crisis has taken a toll on many communities across Canada. It requires swift action, as well as a more balanced approach to deal with problematic substance use. Our renewed evidence-based approach would allow the government to better protect Canadians, save lives, and address the root causes of this crisis. Canada needs this action now.

While our focus must be on the current crisis, we must also pursue a balanced approach over the long term to address the upstream causes of problematic substance use.

We will continue to work with our partners, including the provinces, territories, municipalities, and indigenous communities.

While we cannot end this crisis immediately, we can markedly reduce its impact and set ourselves on a path to health for all. Measures proposed in Bill C-37 aim to take swift action to address the opioid crisis. I call on hon. members of the House to support the passage of Bill C-37 without delay.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the minister about the current injection site application requirements versus the proposed requirements. For example, the current requirements explicitly state, as far as consultation is concerned, that there needs to be the provincial health minister's opinion, the provincial public safety minister's opinion, the local government's opinion, letters from the head of the police force in the area, letters from health professionals in relation to public health, and consultations with professional licensing authorities for physicians and nurses.

In addition, they require that the public have 90 days after the day on which notice is given to provide the minister with comments. The current bill states that there is only a need to have an expression of community support or opposition, and that is about it.

It further states that the minister may give notice, and it indicates a period of time not to exceed 90 days in which members of the public may provide the minister with comments. Therefore, under the new regulations, theoretically, a one-day consultation would suffice, and as long as one advocacy group was in favour, the minister would approve the site.

I am wondering if the minister could clarify what she means by community and community consultation.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and for his acknowledgement of the seriousness of this crisis.

When it comes to making decisions about supervised consumption sites, consultation with communities is absolutely essential. I hear from communities almost every day, people who are living in places like the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver and communities like Victoria. The member for Victoria is here today.

If members speak to people who go into these communities and speak to business owners, first responders, and law enforcement officials, they will hear their cries of desperation. These communities are saying that people are dying in their streets and that they need to find a way to save people's lives.

Of course the community has to be consulted. There will always be questions, and they are absolutely legitimate. What Bill C-37 allows is for the Minister of Health to be able to make a reasonable decision and to make sure that all the appropriate people are consulted. Communities are desperately crying out for these kinds of facilities to be available. We have deep, abundant scientific evidence that they save lives, and we have seen that in communities where they have been introduced, the public has in fact come to see that they are highly effective in allowing public safety and making sure that people are safely introduced to the public health system.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I am glad to hear the minister acknowledge the comprehensive roots and causes of substance use disorders. I agree with her, very much, that addiction is a complex psychosocial disease. I think we all agree in this House that addiction is, first and foremost, a health issue.

Taking all of these facts together, it is clear that we need to provide Canadians with a full range of treatment options if we are really to help people recover, if we are really going to stop overdoses, and if we are really going to reduce the deaths being caused in cities across this country.

However, it is also a fact, and I think the minister knows this, that there is a shocking lack of detox and treatment facilities in this country that are publicly available, affordable, and free. A lot of families want to get help for a family member. It costs $10,000 or $20,000 a month to access treatment. It takes an average of eight days in British Columbia to access detox. We all know that with addiction, if someone does not get into treatment today, they may not be ready tomorrow.

Will the minister assure this House that in the upcoming budget, there will be significant new federal funding to help create detox and treatment facilities for Canadians across this country, which is the only real way to actually deal with this health issue?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am so pleased that the member for Vancouver Kingsway has raised this matter. He is absolutely right that harm reduction alone will not solve the opioid crisis. It requires a range of pillars, and that includes access to treatment.

I would absolutely agree with the member that there is a tragic shortage of treatment facilities in this country. When I speak to mayors of big cities, people who work in emergency departments, and people who are first responders, they decry the fact that people can have their lives saved, but then they go back out onto the streets. They need treatment.

When those people need treatment and are ready for treatment, they should have access to treatment. That is why I am very pleased that we were able to offer to the provinces and territories $5 billion in new money for mental health and addictions. I certainly hope that my colleagues, the ministers of health, particularly in the provinces where this is the greatest challenge, will use some of those resources to expand access to treatment facilities so that people will be able to get, possibly, opioid substitution therapy, for example, and will be able to have their social issues addressed and live healthy lives.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for looking at this issue and understanding the complexities of it.

I have some questions. If we go back to 1996, the treatment for opioid dependency was the methadone program. As the years have gone by, and you have not mentioned that program—

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I would remind the member to address the chair and not the individual member.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, today we see the abuse that program has undergone. We can look at the sale of prescriptions for methadone. We can look at the people using methadone, along with other drugs.

I am just wondering if the minister can speak to the review of that program and the costs it has borne over the years to end up with the results we see today.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to answer this question, which raises again the issue of treatment, which is clearly an important part of the response to the opioid crisis. The member raises the issue of medication-assisted therapy, and that includes opioid substitution therapy, products like methadone and another product called buprenorphine/naloxone, which is also known as Suboxone. These are absolutely essential parts of the solution to the opioid crisis. People who have been identified as having a severe addiction are in many cases, unfortunately, accessing drugs that are laced with much more powerful drugs, like fentanyl, and that is causing many of the overdose deaths.

We are looking to work with provinces, territories, and communities including indigenous communities, to make sure that treatment options are available. There are challenges in accessing some of these opioid substitution therapies across the country. There are challenges with cost. There are challenges with making sure that prescribers can use them in a proper way. However, we know, and I know from having talked to the parents of people who are suffering with problematic substance use, that they want their children to be able to access these kinds of treatments and to find good health.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, during the break I had an opportunity to meet with a friend of mine who is a firefighter in Niagara. I asked him how work was going, and he said that it was terrible. He was going from call to call with the opioid crisis and overdoses.

We hear a lot about the opioid crisis related to British Columbia, but my question for the hon. Minister of Health is how the government is going to address this issue from coast to coast to coast.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very grateful for this question. It does emphasize the tremendous toll this places on first responders in many of the cities across the country, and even in rural areas. It is heartbreaking for them to see people die of overdoses and to have to try to get to them to respond.

The member also raises the matter that there is a shortage of good data, and that is one of the things I am very concerned about. In fact, it has been raised by the health committee and others.

We have tasked the chief public health officer of this country to work with the medical officers of health across the country, with Stats Canada, and with the Canadian Institute for Health Information to find a way, and I will continue to push on this, to get access to good, rapid, up-to-date data across the country so that we can recognize where there are pockets of substance use challenges that are not adequately being addressed.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I am happy to finally get the opportunity to rise in the House to debate bill C-37, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

I think all members of the House and all Canadians would agree that the ongoing opioid crisis is absolutely tragic. I know that the Premier of British Columbia and a few of our colleagues from B.C. have asked the minister to issue a national public health emergency as the overdose numbers continue to rise in the province.

This is a very complex issue. There is not just one solution.

I was fortunate to have been part of the opioid study recently conducted at the health committee. It allowed me, and I think all my colleagues on the committee, to truly learn and empathize with struggling addicts, communities, first nation health professions, and families that have had to endure an opioid-related death.

We had the opportunity to hear many first-hand stories, something that I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of. We heard from parents who lost their children. We heard from recovered drug addicts, government officials, and the first responders who are reviving these people hourly. We sometimes seem so focused on those battling drug addictions that we forget about the first responders who are working so hard to ensure that our streets and our citizens are safe.

I would like to personally thank everyone who appeared as a witness. I truly believe that their testimony has played a huge role in encouraging all levels of government and Canadians to work together, and of course, to take action.

With that, I would now like to get to the bill itself.

The bill aims to achieve five main things. First, it would grant increased powers to the Canada Border Services Agency. Second, it would regulate the importation of unregistered devices, such as pill presses. Third, it would increase prohibitions against certain actions related to controlled substances. Fourth, it would give the minister authority to temporarily schedule and control new dangerous substances. Fifth, it would streamline the application process for approving and opening supervised injection sites.

We know that there are many factors that have contributed to the opioid crisis. While one cause of the crisis results from illegal substances and organized crime, many are battling addiction because of the over-prescribing of painkillers.

This bill seeks to address one aspect of the crisis: illegal activities and organized crime. I look forward to seeing what measures will be taken to address prescription drugs and over-prescribing, as I think we must acknowledge that it is a key contributor as well.

We know that China has been a primary source of fentanyl, carfentanil, and other dangerous opioids. It has been reported over the last year, and by the CBSA itself, how easy it is to import illicit substances into Canada with the current regulations.

My Conservative colleagues have been pushing the government to finally acknowledge the flaws at our borders and grant officers the authority to search and seize suspicious packages weighing less than 30 grams. While border agents already intercept dozens of these packages, exporters have found a way to hide illegal substances in toys, silica packages, and products that ultimately could not be searched without permission. Removing the “30 grams or less” exemption from the Customs Act is a much-needed step in combatting the opioid crisis facing our country.

Another weakness that has been recognized by many of my colleagues, but most passionately by Senator Vern White, is the need to target devices, specifically pill presses. These devices are capable of turning out thousands of deadly pills per hour, and under the current law, anyone can import one legally. That is not okay.

Abbotsford Police Deputy Chief Mike Serr stated:

Right now, they are not regulated and the importation of them—there really is very little from an intelligence perspective the police can do.... To have these machines registered would be at least one step for us.... We could then have a better sense for ensuring they are for legitimate purposes.

Again, granting the Canada Border Services Agency the authority to detain unregistered pill presses is something that must be done. It is important that all information obtained at the border be available to law enforcement agencies across the country so that they can take the appropriate steps in ensuring the safety of all citizens. Ultimately, that is what we are trying to ensure here: that all Canadians are protected and that access to illicit, dangerous substances is avoided any way possible.

That is what I find quite contradictory. The government is so quick to encourage the approval of supervised injection sites. Injection sites are known to give access to illicit and dangerous drugs, yet the government appears to want more of them. This is where there are some major inconsistencies in the government's policies.

The minister's mandate letter states, “Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen. I expect that our work will be informed by performance measurement, evidence, and feedback from Canadians”. Yet, the bill would severely weaken the Respect for Communities Act, which was put in place to ensure that feedback from Canadians was taken into consideration before a supervised injection site was approved.

Under the previous Conservative government, we took steps to ensure there was a robust consultation process which included residents, local law enforcement agencies, and elected officials to be on board with an injection site in their community. Bill C-37 proposes to significantly change those requirements. While the expression of community support for opposition is a requirement, the specific requirements have been removed to allow the Liberals to easily change them as they see fit. This is a way to completely avoid parliamentary oversight. The minister's attempt to avoid community approval will fail.

We heard from numerous witnesses in the health committee that an injection site could not be successful without the support of the entire community. I will use the city of Ottawa as an example.

The mayor, the chief of police, and the former chief of police all have openly stated that they are opposed to an injection site in their community. Yet, under this bill, there is no assurance their views would even be taken into consideration. The minister has given herself the power to approve a site, regardless. What the minister does not realize is that not all communities want injection sites. Usually there are a few advocacy groups that are in support of a site, and no other legitimate stakeholder.

The Prime Minister's own parliamentary secretary for justice stated, “They have been doing it in Vancouver for some years and there have been issues that have arisen there. I don’t know of any place in Toronto where that couldn’t have a significant negative impact on the communities.”

The Liberals are using harm reduction strategies as temporary solutions, band-aid solutions, and are refusing to offer any long-term solutions such as treatment and prevention. This is concerning.

In the minister's mandate letter, the Prime Minister states, “When Canadians are in good physical and mental health, they are able to work better, be more productive, and contribute more fully to our economy while living healthier, happier lives”. I agree with this statement, which is why injection sites should not become the norm. These sites are not helping people become productive. They are not encouraging good physical and mental health; in fact, they are doing the complete opposite. All injection sites are doing is providing a safe place for addicts to get their fix and if they overdose, someone will revive them. This is not a life. Injection sites do not save lives. They revive people who, from what I have heard from meeting with many recovered addicts over the year, do not want to be alive if drugs, crime, and overdosing is all they have to look forward to.

The parliamentary secretary for justice also said, “the ambiguous messaging that comes out from a society that says you can’t use these drugs, they’re against the law — but if you do, we’ll provide a place [for you] to do it in.” This is exactly the type of conflicting message Canadians do not want children to be raised with. Drugs are dangerous. They are illegal because they ruin lives.

The Prime Minister and the Liberal Party are simply building a co-dependent relationship with drug addicts. To elaborate on what I mean, a co-dependent relationship is a dysfunctional relationship in which one party enables and supports another's addiction such as drugs. That is what the Liberals want society to become: an enabler as opposed to a preventer.

The president of the Canadian Police Association, Tom Stamatakis, said, “We should be treating addiction as a health issue and if harm reduction is part of a holistic approach to dealing with this issue, there should be a treatment pillar that focuses ultimately on how we get people away from engaging in harmful activities.”

Injection sites simply provide a place for drug users to get high, but offer no treatment. I will use Insite as an example.

In 2015, 6,531 people visited the injection site and only 464 were referred to Insite, the site's apparent detox treatment centre. Only seven per cent were referred to or offered detox treatment at Insite. To elaborate on the statistics, when I went for a visit, I was basically told by an employee that it was not in the business of treating these people. The site was there to provide them with needles and ensure that they would wake up. These sites are not saving lives; they are enabling and giving up on people whose lives have taken a bad turn.

The government's desire to quickly approve these sites without community support, especially law enforcement, is absolutely outrageous.

We cannot support the government's attempt to improve these dangerous enabling sites without knowing and being assured that residents, law enforcement, and elected officials are 100% on board.

Once the minister approves the site, the responsibility to ensure the safety of all residents rests in the hands of local police. Crime rates do not drop as the government keeps stating. Addicts are still illegally obtaining these drugs through break-ins, robberies, prostitution, etc. As Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack said, “They’re (VPD) seeing more of what we’d call street disorder—more people using drugs on the street, smoking drugs, congregating, minor thefts.”

I worry about my community of Oshawa. Oshawa is an up-and-coming area with many new businesses and new residential areas for families to settle into. Oshawa and Durham region continue to work to improve the crime rates, and we have seen a drastic decline in assault, robberies, and drug crimes since 2009. This is thanks to the community as a whole working together to make it a better and safer place to raise our families. I worry that the approval of an injection site in my riding would lead to people looking for somewhere else to live, which ultimately would negatively affect these thriving businesses. It would cause alarm if local residents, the mayor, and local police were not consulted prior to an approval. This is something my local community would not be in favour of, and that is why I cannot support this portion of the bill.

Another issue we heard quite a bit about throughout the opioid study was the fact that new dangerous and deadly substances were constantly being made. This causes serious concerns. As the current rules stand, new psychoactive substances that are designed to mimic illegal drugs are chemically different enough not to be considered illegal.

I was happy to see that that the bill proposed to grant the Minister of Health the authority to temporarily and quickly schedule and control a new and dangerous substance under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This will allow the minister to take immediate action for the public good, while launching a thorough review of the new substance. This means action is being taken while a decision on whether to permanently schedule the substance is warranted.

I think all members agree that the opioid crisis must be addressed. I also think that all members are in agreement on the severity of the issue.

The right steps are being taken to address security concerns at the border. Acknowledging that an international source is massively contributing to the opioid crisis is the first beneficial step the Liberals have taken to combat the issue.

Ensuring that the Canada Border Services Agency can now open any suspicious package under 30 grams will stop the inflow of illegal substances dramatically.

Unregulated devices such as pill presses are another massive contributor to the opioid crisis, and that is acknowledged in the bill. These devices are allowing organized crime to produce mass amounts of deadly drugs. Giving the CBSA authority to share information with law enforcement agencies will allow police forces to do their jobs and shut down these illegal activities.

The bill also acknowledges the notion that new dangerous substances are constantly being manufactured. In order to control the quick turnaround of newly designed psychoactive substances, under new regulations, the minister would be able to temporarily and quickly schedule control of a dangerous substance.

These are public safety measures that look out for the best interests of all Canadians. These measures look to negatively affect organized crime and make it harder for organized crime to produce and sell dangerous drugs.

However, severely weakening the consultation process with Canadians before the approval of an injection site is the exact opposite of these other measures. Approving these sites all around the country will normalize substance abuse. Drug addicts will still be committing extreme numbers of crimes to obtain these drugs. They will still be contributing to organized crime, and they are all to use freely in a government-sanctioned facility.

I acknowledge that every province has different needs. What is happening in British Columbia is not the same as what is happening in Prince Edward Island. However, I cannot acknowledge that injection sites save lives. I heard the analogies from a medical addiction specialist who said that, “If I was a lifeguard and saw someone drowning, I would run in and pull them out of the water. Once they started breathing again, I would not throw them back into the water”. That is exactly what injection sites do.

Streamlining the application process for approving injection sites is irresponsible. It would put communities at risk and it would put individuals with severe drug dependencies at risk. Drug addiction should be seen as a treatable illness. Until I see the government take appropriate steps to help these people get off these dangerous and deadly drugs, I cannot, and will not, support this harm reduction band-aid solution.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, although I appreciate the member speaking to the legislation, I do not necessarily agree with a number of the points and conclusions that he has brought to the chamber.

The Vancouver Insite injection site has received overwhelmingly positive feedback since its creation. Its creation was based on consultation and had a federal minister working with the provincial entities and different stakeholders, including first responders and the community as a whole. I recall when the Conservatives brought in legislation to try to expand the area. There was a great deal of concern and scepticism toward the Conservatives back then because they did not support these injection-type sites, even though science and statistics clearly indicated that society benefits from these sites.

I take it from the member's statements that we will no doubt have to agree to disagree on the validity of the injection sites, but that we do agree on the crisis of opioids. This legislation will assist in dealing with that crisis. Given the urgency of the opioid crisis in Canada, at the very least, would the member not agree that we should attempt to get this to committee as soon as possible?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I think everyone in the House agrees this is urgent. When we look at addiction as a health problem, it is clear we would treat no other health condition like this. Even if we were to define the harm in the term “harm reduction” as an addict putting heroin into his or her arm, I think the approach would be to try to help that addict so he or she would not do that.

We have seen statistics. I remember talking to Vernon White. He said that the average addict committed four to eight illegal crimes every day to get his or her fix. Therefore, by allowing addicts to go into one of these injection sites to inject an illicit substance, which as far as we know could be filled with kerosene, and then giving them a little shake and letting them go back out again saying that we have saved their life, we are enabling them to go out in that community and commit four to eight crimes again. Whether it is break and enter or prostitution, let us imagine that happening four to eight times per day and all we are saying is, “Come back in again. We'll see what we can do to help you.”

My colleague from Vancouver was adamant and passionate. This was a band-aid solution. We need to work on long-term detox programs. I find it uncomfortable that the minister just finished renegotiating the health accord and did not get a firm commitment from the provinces and territories to open up these detox centres. That is what really saves lives.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, what is stunning to me is that the member appears to be saying that he agrees that we are facing an opioid epidemic.

We have been told by the minister that there has been an 80% increase in deaths from overdose since 2015. There have been huge increases in deaths from overdose in my city alone.

More than 87 organizations that work with the homeless, the HIV-infected, and the addicted came forward to oppose the legislation of the member's government. They said that safe injection sites were proven to decrease overdose, death, injury and risk behaviour, that access to health care for the marginalized increased, that it saved health care costs, and that it decreased open drug use and publicly discarded equipment.

Therefore, given the member supports the fact that there is an opioid epidemic, will he support our call for a national public emergency to be declared so federal resources will be made available immediately, and at least temporary safe injection sites?