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

Sponsor

Jane Philpott  Liberal

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 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.

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

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 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Brampton East.

The emergence of fentanyl and its analogues, an opioid at least 100 times more potent than morphine, has given rise to a public health crisis in Canada that requires urgent action.

Bill C-37 proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in a number of ways to address this crisis. In terms of harm reduction, it proposes to simplify the process of applying both for a supervised consumption site and for the exemptions that would allow certain activities to take place at a supervised site. I am pleased to see an evidence-based health-centric focus on harm reduction return to our health policy and legislation.

With regard to law enforcement and border security, amongst many changes, it would prohibit the importation of designated devices, unless they are registered with the Minister of Health. This would specifically prohibit unregistered importation of pill presses and encapsulators. It would expand the offence of possession, production, sale, or importation of anything with the knowledge that it will be used to produce or traffic in methamphetamines.

The bill would authorize the minister to temporarily add to a schedule substances that the minister has reasonable grounds to believe pose a significant risk to public health and safety. It would modernize inspection powers allowing border officers to open mail weighing 30 grams or less in order to stop drugs like fentanyl from entering Canada illegally through the mail system.

I would like to add my support for this bill and the proposed amendments to the CDSA. I would frame my support with particular reference to the recommendations from the December 2016 report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, entitled “Report and Recommendations on the Opioid Crisis in Canada”. I am pleased to be a member of the standing committee.

My following remarks draw heavily on this report and the excellent summation of the witnesses' testimony and the committee's deliberations, as provided by the committee's members and supporting staff. The members of the standing committee agreed to undertake an emergency study of the opioid crisis in Canada. During the course of its study, the committee held five meetings, where it heard from a range of stakeholders, including federal and provincial government representatives, health care professionals, addiction experts, emergency front-line responders, representatives of first nations communities, and individuals with lived experience in substance abuse and addiction.

These witnesses outlined specific ways to address the opioid crisis and implored the committee to make recommendations that would lead to concrete action. I cannot emphasize enough the powerful, emotional, and compelling testimony that we heard from all witnesses urging the government to take action on this crisis.

The committee heard from witnesses that this situation began reaching crisis proportions in July 2013, when fentanyl, a prescription opioid 100 times more potent than morphine, became increasingly available on the illicit drug market. The assistant commissioner for federal policing special services with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police advised the committee that, because of the high demand for this drug, organized crime groups began importing illegal fentanyl from China. These are then transformed into tablet forms in clandestine labs in Canada using pill presses and are disguised as legal prescriptions, such as OxyContin, or are used in powder form as cutting agents for other illicit drugs.

The unknown potency of illegal fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, coupled with the fact that users are often unaware that they are taking the drug, has resulted in a dramatic increase in drug deaths in Canada. British Columbia has become the epicentre of the crisis because of its maritime ports and relative proximity to China.

According to the chief coroner for British Columbia, the percentage of drug deaths involving fentanyl increased from 5% in 2012 to 60% in 2016, with the involvement of fentanyl doubling the rates of drug deaths in the province. According to the coroner, the province had experienced—and this at the date of the testimony—488 illicit drug deaths at the end of August 2016, or approximately 61 deaths a month.

In addition—and again, I am drawing from the text of the my committee's report—the committee heard that the RCMP is collaborating with law enforcement agencies in China to combat international drug trafficking networks, as well as to gain support for regulatory control of fentanyl analogues to prevent their distribution in Canada.

In terms of federal efforts at the border, the committee heard that Canada Border Services Agency is using innovative technologies and dogs to detect fentanyl at borders and maritime ports, resulting in more than 115 seizures since 2010.

However, the vice-president of the operations branch of the CBSA explained to the committee that the agency faces challenges detecting and intercepting fentanyl sent through the postal system. Fentanyl powder and equivalent substances are most often smuggled into Canada through the postal stream. Due to the increased volume of packages sent through postal and courier services, it can be a challenge for the CBSA to identify and intercept all shipments of concern. Postal and courier shipments are often accompanied by false declarations or are intentionally mislabelled. The RCMP further elaborated that these shipments are disguised or labelled in a variety of ways, such as printer ink, toys, and DVDs. To address this issue, Canada Border Services was reviewing the Customs Act to see if it could remove the restrictions on the agency's ability to open packages weighing less than 30 grams.

With respect to harm reduction strategies, the committee heard that supervised consumption sites are an evidence-based harm reduction measure. A number of witnesses expressed the opinion that changes to the CDSA, introduced in 2015, through Bill C-2, were a barrier to establishing new supervised consumption sites across the country and should be repealed or significantly amended.

After much deliberation, the committee made a number of recommendations.

Specific to harm reduction measures is recommendation number eight: “That the Government of Canada repeal or significantly amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act where it creates barriers to communities in establishing supervised consumption sites...”. Bill C-37 addresses this recommendation specifically.

Specific to law enforcement and border security, the committee made the following recommendations:

Recommendation 33 says:

That the Government of Canada take measures to grant authority and lawful privilege to Canada Border Services Agency officials to search and/or test suspect packages that weigh under 30 grams.

Recommendation 34 says:

That the Government of Canada develop a federal enforcement and interdiction strategy around the importation of illicit opioids.

Recommendation 35 says:

That the Government of Canada adopt measures to regulate commercial pill presses to limit their possession to pharmacists and others who hold an appropriate licence.

Recommendation 36 says:

That stronger criminal penalties for having a production machine be established.

Finally, recommendation 37 says:

That the Government of Canada provide more resources for drug testing packages and other shipments.

I am pleased to see that Bill C-37 addresses these recommendations and is consistent with the cited findings of the committee.

Looking beyond Bill C-37 and the amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the committee heard that this crisis should be considered a public health crisis, and the committee produced many other recommendations related to harm reduction, addictions prevention including prescribing practices and public education, addictions treatment, the need for mental health supports, and issues unique to first nations.

The Minister of Health has already responded to this crisis through a five-point action plan that includes better informing Canadians about the risks of opioids, supporting better prescribing practices, reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids, supporting better treatment options for patients, improving the evidence base and improving data collection, and also by making naloxone available as an emergency treatment.

Progressive action was also initiated by the minister through a pan-Canadian opioid summit held in November 2016.

Further, the minister has responded to every request that the provinces have raised with the government, and she continues to work with the provinces.

Finally, while this public health crisis must be addressed through the measures proposed in Bill C-37, and while as Canadians we battle the addictions brought on by opioid usage, it is important to remember that some Canadians, like Christina in my riding of Oakville, suffer from unrelenting and incurable pain. My thoughts are with her today. We must always ensure that their needs are addressed and that appropriate pharmaceutical care remains available to them.

I want the residents of my riding of Oakville to be protected from the opioid crisis and illicit fentanyl distribution. I will be supporting Bill C-37, and I encourage all members of the House to support this bill and to work to address this terrible public health crisis. Let us get this bill through the House and the other place as quickly as we can to help these Canadians.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague and I serve together on the health committee. I would like to thank him for a lot of the good work that has been done.

As my colleague from Calgary said, we are all in agreement with much of what Bill C-37 contains, but one of the things we are not in agreement with is the Liberals' idea of a consultation process. During the election campaign, they said they would consult with Canadians. We saw them do that with their policy on pipelines, but here, on something to do with public health, the bill basically guts the consultation process.

From the testimony we heard in committee, my colleague knows it is essential that there be community buy-in for these injection sites or consumption sites to be successful. Everybody wants anything to do with addicts to be successful in its implementation.

If an injection site goes into a community, it is going to be the local community that will have to pay for police enforcement. The province has to put out money for these things.

Ottawa, for example, has a Liberal mayor who is on the record as saying he is opposed to having an injection site in this community. The chief of police and the former chief of police have also stated that they are not in favour of this type of intervention in this community. Because the Liberals have cut the consultation process on this issue, does my colleague think that if the mayor, the chief of police, and stakeholders who are going to be responsible for enforcement and payment, are not onside with it, the minister should still put an injection site in Ottawa?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to serve with the member on the health committee. We have worked together to make some really good recommendations and directions in our report.

With respect to supervised consumption sites and harm reduction, we heard from many witnesses how important these sites are as part of early treatment and early intervention and better management for people who are consuming.

We also heard from witnesses that the previous government's Respect for Communities Act, Bill C-2, introduced such stringent rules and 26 application criteria that we have not been able to open a new safe consumption site across Canada since Bill C-2 was introduced. The Supreme Court has ruled on this and Bill C-37 would simply enshrine the court's ruling.

I would note that one of the five criteria is support and expressions of community support for the centre. I do believe there is appropriate response to community concerns and that part of the process of approval deals specifically with hearing from and looking for communities' expressions of support or their expressions of opposition.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Madam Speaker, likewise, it is an honour to serve with the hon. member on the health committee. I do find that we work together quite collaboratively on these issues.

It is really important that we remember in the House as we are debating Bill C-37 that there are federal and provincial jurisdictions at work here. Many of the situations and cases that the hon. member mentioned are really provincial authority. We are in the middle of a health accord negotiation. There is $6 billion available for mental health and addictions for provinces from the federal government which would go a long way toward implementing the treatment programs and services that some of these people need.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Raj Grewal Liberal Brampton East, ON

Madam Speaker, before I present my thoughts on Bill C-37, I do want to say that I come from Brampton East, which has the second most diverse population in the entire country. We have five Sikh gurdwaras, four Hindu temples, four mosques, two churches, and we all live in great harmony. The events that happened in Quebec affected all of us across this country. A place of worship where people go to pray is no place for violence. We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and we pray for all of them that we recover united as Canadians.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-37, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

The bill proposes important legislative changes that would help to support the new recently announced Canadian drugs and substances strategy, a comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate strategy made up of the four key pillars of prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement, all of which are built on a strong foundation of evidence.

We are in the midst of a national public health crisis in Canada. In 2016, thousands of Canadians tragically died of accidental opioid overdoses, and more will die this year. Just last year in British Columbia alone, more than 900 people died from drug overdoses. That is an 80% increase from 2015. This is proof that the situation is getting worse. Deaths from overdoses will now be greater than deaths by car accidents. This tragic crisis continues to move eastward in Canada, with increasing drug seizures of fentanyl across our country.

As every member in this House knows, problematic substance use and addiction are serious public health issues. It seems that not a day goes by without seeing a story published in a Canadian newspaper about yet another overdose, another life lost, or another new dangerous drug on the streets. At the heart of these stories are everyday Canadians, their families, our communities.

Our government has taken action from day one. We are building on our five-point action plan to address opioid misuse. We have taken concrete steps, such as granting section 56 exemptions for the Dr. Peter Centre and extending the exemption for Insite for an additional four years. We made the overdose antidote more widely available in Canada. Last autumn, the Minister of Health co-hosted a conference and summit on opioids which resulted in 42 organizations bringing forward concrete proposals of their own. However, we must continue to respond to this tragedy in a way that is comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate.

Bill C-37 would provide the government and law enforcement with the tools needed to support Canadian communities in addressing problematic substance use, including the opioid crisis.

With the dramatic increase in overdose deaths due to opioids occurring in Canada right now, it is crucial that the bill be passed swiftly.

Bill C-37 would demonstrate true support for communities grappling with the crisis by, among other things, removing unnecessary barriers to establishing supervised consumption sites. These barriers were put in place by the previous government in 2015.

When Bill C-37 passes, it will streamline the application process for supervised consumption sites by replacing the current 26 criteria set out in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to establish such a site with the requirement to submit evidence related to the five factors set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 2011 decision regarding Insite. These factors include: impact on crime rates; location conditions indicating need; a regulatory structure in place to support the facility; resources available to support its maintenance; and expressions of community support or opposition.

By reducing the number of criteria, the administrative burden on communities seeking to establish a supervised consumption site would be lessened. However, the health and safety of those operating these sites, their clients, and the surrounding community would not be compromised.

I want to take a moment to address the misunderstanding about these proposed amendments.

Some members of this House have contended that the views of a community would no longer be important in the assessment of an application to establish a supervised consumption site. Nothing could be further from the truth. 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 the legislation. The Government of Canada supports 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. Yes, it means that the concerns of the community 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 want to establish a supervised consumption site as part of their local drug strategies.

Under Bill C-37, communities can be assured that their voices will be heard and that each application will be subject to a comprehensive review, yet it would do so without inevitably stalling the implementation of these life-saving programs in communities where they are wanted and needed. Just like any other regulated program, our government has a responsibility to the public.