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

Sponsor

Jane Philpott  Liberal

Status

Considering committee report (Senate), as of April 13, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-37.

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

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.

April 6th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Deputy Minister, Department of Health

Simon Kennedy

There's a lot of work on opioids under way in the health portfolio right now. I could give you a catalogue of the areas that we're working on, the priorities.

With regard to the money in the budget, the government has not to date come out and publicly said this is the specific breakdown of how the new funds will be spent, but my understanding is that will be happening shortly. I wouldn't want to pre-empt the minister or the government in that regard.

Some areas are priorities for us. For example, we have laboratories across the country that do analysis of drug samples seized in raids by the police and that sort of thing. Obviously, because of the rise of synthetic opioids, the demand for those laboratory services has gone up significantly. The provinces have asked for additional assistance from our laboratories. So one area of priority for us going forward with some of the resources we received is going to be a substantial increase in the ability of our labs to respond to the opioid crisis, as well as an ability to analyze substances more quickly, and perhaps more public reporting, better assistance to provinces, and so on. That would be one example.

When Bill C-37 goes through, we want to be able to more expeditiously process requests for things like supervised consumption facilities. That's an area we want to beef up.

We have been doing a lot of work on the regulatory side to try to support provinces in enabling access to new therapies as an example. That's another area that we've been prioritizing.

I know the Public Health Agency has been doing a lot of work as well. I'm sure it could speak to some of the things it's doing. There's a long catalogue of initiatives we're working on. We would use the new resources to support those kinds of activities.

April 6th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

The circumstances are a sobering reality, and Mr. Davies has highlighted some of what's actually happening. I think we are seeing good progress

However, this is a crisis that has been bubbling up for some time. To manage people's expectations, while I would like to be able to say it's going to turn around immediately, we have to realize that it's taken years to get to where we are and it's going to take some time to turn this around. I am pleased with the progress that's been made.

You asked specifically around Bill C-37, and I once again want to reiterate my thanks to this committee for your expeditious work on that. You had already studied the matter and were able to move it through. We look forward to the passage of that bill, and I hope it will be very soon. I met with the Senate committee last week, and they are still taking hearings, but I hope we will see that moved through very quickly.

A few weeks ago, I was able to announce three new supervised consumption sites in Montreal that were working under the previous legislation, but it had taken them 18 months in the application process to get to that point. We now have another 11 sites in the queue. If we can get that bill through quickly, that really changes the landscape in terms of what it requires, not only for those who are in the queue but for others who will come after them. We hope to be able to announce new sites in the future.

Also, I want to once again remind the committee that while access to supervised consumption sites in communities that want and need them will be effective in saving lives and reducing suffering associated with substance use, this is one of a whole range of measures. We always need to keep our eye on the comprehensive response to this crisis.

April 6th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you very much for the leadership you've been providing for a very important file for all Canadians. It's great to have you as our Minister of Health.

My first question is around the opioid crisis that we've been dealing with, and fentanyl. It is wonderful in Bill C-37 to see a return to evidence-based harm reduction approaches to this crisis, which is a big change from what we had in place before. So with Bill C-37 coming forward, can you tell the committee, are we seeing easier access to safe consumption sites, and are we starting to see prescription changes in naloxone availability? Are you sensing a turn here?

April 6th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Markham—Stouffville Ontario

Liberal

Jane Philpott LiberalMinister of Health

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate being invited here today to discuss Health Canada's 2017-18 main estimates and our proposed spending, which has been identified as part of budget 2017.

Since I was here last year presenting the main estimates, I've had the opportunity to travel the country, and to visit and hear from Canadians about the health issues that concern them. I know that you, as a committee, have also heard from many Canadians, including those in indigenous communities in this country.

My career as a medical doctor made me realize how necessary it is to improve health outcomes for Canadians. My experiences as a minister over the past year have confirmed that.

I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the resources that we, as a federal government, are putting towards making these kinds of improvements.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for announcing those who are accompanying me today. I will not repeat their names. I'm pleased that they are here.

I will first say a few words, and then I would be pleased to answer your questions.

As you'll see reflected in the 2017-18 main estimates, Health Canada is delivering on many priority initiatives for our government. These are going to result in approximately $4 billion in spending authorities for 2017-18. This is a net increase of more than $500 million from 2016-17, and there will be significant additional investments that were outlined in budget 2017 and will be identified through future supplementary and main estimates exercises.

I would like to highlight some of our government's priorities and the actions my department is taking to address them.

Canada's publicly funded health care system, as you well know, is a great source of pride for Canadians. The federal government along with our provincial and territorial partners recognize the need to strengthen the health care system so that it adapts, innovates, and addresses the many new challenges that Canadians are facing every day.

I'm pleased that almost all jurisdictions now have accepted our federal offer of new investments in health care with significant new money, in particular for shared priorities including mental health and home care.

You will note that over the next five years, the Canada health transfer amounts provided to provinces and territories are expected to total approximately $200 billion, providing long-term, predictable, and growing funding to our provincial and territorial partners.

This year's funding, for example, will be approximately $1.1 billion higher than it was last year.

As part of our deliberations with the provinces and territories, we identified some particular health care priorities, specifically, mental health and home care.

One thing I learned as a doctor, and no doubt you all understand as well, is that there is no health without mental health.

Over the past few months, I have had meetings in eastern Canada and I participated in a roundtable in Toronto. Stakeholders talked to me about what we could do to improve mental health services, especially when it comes to young people, and the need to monitor those improvements.

There's a growing awareness in Canada about both the importance of mental health and the large number of Canadians who are affected by it. Indeed, most Canadians are affected, either directly or indirectly, by matters of mental illness.

There's a recognition, as well, about the tremendous importance of and the rising need for home care. As we may have discussed before, some 15% of hospital beds are currently occupied by patients who would prefer to receive their care at home or who would be better off in some kind of community-based setting.

Budget 2017 proposes to provide $6 billion over 10 years for home care and $5 billion over 10 years to support better access to mental health care. These initiatives will make Canada's health care systems more responsive to the needs and expectations of all Canadians.

Two other priorities were identified during discussions leading to a renewed health accord—making prescription drugs more affordable and ensuring that our health care is more focused on innovation.

To improve access to prescription medicines and lower drug prices, budget 2017 proposes to invest $140 million over the next five years. This will support important work by Health Canada, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, and the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. To expand e-prescribing, virtual care initiatives, and the adoption and use of electronic medical records, we propose $300 million over the next five years to support the Canada Health Infoway.

We also propose to invest $51 million over three years in the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, to help accelerate innovation in our health care system. We plan to invest $53 million over the next five years for the Canadian Institute for Health Information to improve decision-making and strengthen reporting of health-related principles and outcomes.

Based on observations from my own travels to first nations and Inuit communities across the country, I believe very strongly that improving the health of indigenous peoples in Canada must be a priority for our government.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has asked the federal government to close the gaps in health outcomes between aboriginal communities and non-aboriginal communities. That is exactly what we are currently doing.

Through budget 2017, we're proposing to invest $813 million in new money for health services for first nations and Inuit. This includes new money to increase community-based infectious disease programming, to expand access to nurse practitioners as well as physician services, to increase access to mental health and wellness services, and to increase home and community care services on reserve.

As you'll note in the main estimates, Health Canada's funding for first nations and Inuit health programs will increase by approximately $440 million this year. This will include $82 million for major repairs, expansions, and new construction of health infrastructure such as nursing stations, health centres, acute care facilities, as well as drug and alcohol treatment centres.

The estimates also include support for three other related matters: $58 million to continue implementing our legal obligations under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement; $27 million to provide first nations communities on reserve with access to safe, reliable water and waste-water systems; and $25 million to address urgent mental health needs in these communities.

Finally, we will also invest this year $137 million in interim reforms related to Jordan's principle. This will ensure that first nations children on reserve have access to the same publicly funded health and social services as other Canadians, and that no child falls through the cracks. The need for this action is obvious. In July 2016, we announced funding of $382 million over three years. Since then, more than 3,300 requests for services and supports related to Jordan's principle have been approved for first nations children.

Another health priority we're addressing is our country's opioid crisis.

I went to British Columbia and met with those who have to deal with the crisis—first responders who are repeatedly called upon to deal with overdoses, as well as families and friends who are suffering the loss of a loved one.

I also want to thank the committee for the work it has done thus far, especially its effort to accelerate the passing of Bill C-37 by Parliament.

Addiction rates and overdose rates are on the rise, and our response must be comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based.

Last December, I announced the Canadian drugs and substances strategy, which will replace the current national anti-drug strategy. It re-establishes harm reduction as one of the key pillars of our policy along with prevention, treatment and law enforcement.

In February of this year, we announced $65 million over five years for national measures to respond to the crisis, and budget 2017 proposes an additional $35 million, for a total of new investments of more than $100 million over the next five years.

Our government is well on track toward legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis.

On the matter of CFIA, the health of Canadian families depends on access to safe and nutritious foods. To help strengthen Canada's world-class food safety system, budget 2016, you'll recall, provided $38.5 million over two years to invest in systems that focus on high-risk domestic and imported foods. Budget 2017 continues this direction, proposing to provide up to $149 million over the next five years to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to carry out this work.

That funding enables the CFIA to develop more stringent and consistent food safety regulations, and to modernize core food safety inspection programs. As a result, Canada will be better able to prevent, identify and address food safety risks.

In addition, several of the priorities of budget 2017 will require that agencies across the health portfolio continue to collaborate on many health priorities. For example, budget 2017 proposes to allocate $47 million over five years to Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to develop and implement a national action plan to address the broad range of health risks associated with climate change.

I am confident that the amounts noted in our main estimates and the funds identified in budget 2017 are going to help us to continue to support better health outcomes for all Canadians and to build a healthier country.

Thank you to the committee once again for inviting us to join you today. We are grateful for your contributions. I am certainly looking forward to your questions.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

April 3rd, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.
See context

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to private member's Bill C-307, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. However, before I address the issues, it is a very special day for me. My son, Alexander Oliver, and his very good friend, Tiana Prince, have joined me in Ottawa. It is great to have them in our capital city with me for a few days.

The intent of Bill C-307 is to enable the federal Minister of Health to require prescription medicine, specifically opioids, to have abuse-deterrent formulations or tamper-proof, tamper-resistant properties. By doing so, it will make these drugs more difficult to crush, snort, or inject, reduce their potential for misuse, abuse, and diversion to our streets.

I strongly agree with the sponsor of the bill when he said that this issue was about public health, about saving lives and doing the right thing. Canadians are the second-highest consumers of prescription opioids in the world. Fifteen per cent of Canadians aged 15 years and older report using prescription opioids in 2013. It is estimated that about 10% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain become addicted. Furthermore, the increased availability of prescription opioids in households has meant that Canadian youth have begun using them for recreational purposes. Six per cent of youth aged 15 to 19 years indicated they abused opioid pain relievers in the past year.

These trends result in significant harms. In Ontario, one in eight deaths of individuals aged 25 to 34 years was found to be opiate-related in 2010. Similarly, there has been a substantial increase in the number of opioid-related deaths in Quebec, reaching almost three deaths per 100,000 persons in 2012.

The response to the crisis by the government has been rapid, and I am pleased to see an evidence-based, health centric focus on harm reduction return to our health policy and legislation.

The Minister of Health has already responded to the 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; and improving the evidence base and data collection. The minister also convened a two-day pan-Canadian conference on opioid abuse in November 2016, which generated many of the changes that were introduced to the House in Bill C-37.

Further, the Standing Committee on Health, which I am proud to be a member of, issued a comprehensive report and recommendations on the opioid crisis on December 12, 2016. In the committee study, the issue of tamper-resistant technologies did not emerge as a preventive strategy. During the course of its study, the committee held five meetings, in which 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.

The 38 recommendations focused on harm reduction; prevention, including training for physicians in prescribing practices and public education; treatment, including addiction treatment and improved access to mental health services; and law enforcement and border security changes. Tamper-resistance formulations were never documented in witness testimonies as an effective strategy.

Let me expand on this point.

One of the debate points over the proposed change to the law in Bill C-307 is about whether an explicit legislative authority is needed to require certain drugs to have tamper-resistant formulations. The government's position is that the current regulation-making authorities under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act are sufficient already to develop regulations should the evidence demonstrate a need for them in the future. From this point of view, Bill C-307 is unnecessary.

Further, nothing in Bill C-307 would speed up that regulation-making process. The sponsor of Bill C-307 outlined many tamper-resistance technologies currently under development. The government strongly supports opioid manufacturers who wish to take proactive measures to make their medications harder to abuse. That is why it recently published guidance to drug manufacturers on what evidence was required to demonstrate tamper-resistant properties for prescription drugs.

It is also clearly the sponsor's view that the technology has been sufficiently developed in the area of tamper resistance and there is enough real-life evidence of positive outcomes to move forward with regulations. I would disagree.

First, tamper resistance has not been shown to reduce the rate of addiction, overdose, and death related to opioid misuse. Remember, a tamper-resistant opioid is still an opioid. Based on current evidence it is no less dangerous and no less addictive. Data from the United States and Ontario shows that opioid-related deaths continued to increase even after the introduction of reformulated OxyContin to the market. Further, as I stated earlier, this strategy was not recommended by the many experts from whom the health committee heard testimony.

Second, only a small number of people who misuse OxyContin pills crush them or dissolve them; most simply swallow them. Roughly a quarter of those who were misusing OxyContin before the tamper-resistant version was marketed continued to do so after its introduction. They did so by moving from inhaling or injecting the drug to, again, simply swallowing them. A sizeable population defeated the tamper-resistant properties, with information on how to do this available on the internet. Of course, those who misused by swallowing OxyContin continued to swallow reformulated OxyContin. Tamper resistance does not mean tamper-proof.

Third, tamper-resistant technology is not sufficiently developed to cover the entire class of opioids, some of which come in the forms of patches, sprays, or injectable liquids.

Fourth, and perhaps most important to me, the introduction of tamper-resistant technology seems to only reduce the abuse of one type of drug in exchange for another. The most common response to the introduction of reformulated OxyContin in the United States was migration to other drugs, including heroin and fentanyl. In the case of tamper resistance, it can result in a substitution or balloon effect. Studies already have found that prescriptions for hydromorphone and fentanyl increased in Ontario after the province restricted access to OxyContin, suggesting a substitution effect could been happening in Canada already.

Members are, of course, all aware of the deadly impacts of the current surge in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Canadians. Because of the high demand for this drug, organized crime groups began importing illegal fentanyl as analogs from China. These are then transformed into tablet forms in clandestine labs in Canada, using pill presses and disguised as other opioids, such as OxyContin. The unknown potency of illegal fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, coupled with the fact the users are often unaware that they are taking illegally manufactured pills, has resulted in a dramatic increase in illicit drug deaths in Canada.

British Columbia has become the epicentre of the crisis. 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 drugs in the province, British Columbia experienced approximately 60 deaths a month by August 2016 from illicit drug use.

We do not want to make uninformed policy decisions that could increase the substitution of OxyContin to illegal fentanyl. The substitution effect can also lead to higher risks of administration, such as injection, which is associated with the spread of hepatitis and increased risk of overdose.

I want the residents of my riding of Oakville to be protected from the opioid crisis and illicit fentanyl distribution. I want all Canadians to be protected from misuse of opioids. I have been meeting to discuss addiction and prevention with key agencies in Oakville, including the medical officer of health, service providers at the Halton Alcohol Drug And Gambling Assessment Prevention and Treatment Services, ADAPT, and, most recently, with the Halton chief of police, Steve Tanner. Tamper-proof has not come up.

I applaud the sponsor of Bill C-307 for the attempt to help address this crisis, but for the reasons stated above, I do not believe the bill would change the government's ability to respond to the crisis. Nor do I believe evidence-based research supports the underlying position taken by the bill.

Finally, I do not think the bill would help the vulnerable and at-risk people in Oakville.

For these reasons, I will not be supporting Bill C-307.

HealthStatements By Members

March 21st, 2017 / 2:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, 914, that is the number of lives lost last year in British Columbia to the opioid crisis, which has ravaged families and communities across British Columbia. Zero is the number of deaths that occurred at any supervised consumption site last year.

These numbers are important and they tell a story, that harm reduction saves lives. After over a decade of inaction by the previous government, this government has taken swift and immediate action to not only save lives, but make evidence-based decisions that will allow for more supervised consumption sites, including in my riding of Surrey Centre.

Surreyietes deserve access to the very best of health care, and Bill C-37 will do exactly that.

I want to extend my personal thanks to the paramedics, firefighters, police officers, and all front-line workers who have not only worked long and difficult hours to save lives, but who have also put their own lives at risk while doing so.

March 20th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

I'll just quickly comment and thank the analyst for his comments.

On Mr. Saroya's bill, the government would agree that there are no constitutional or jurisdictional issues. It's very similar to his previous Bill C-324 in the sense that it's an act that proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but it deals with different sections than Bill C-37, which is currently before the House. We would agree that there are no constitutional or jurisdictional issues.

On the Senate bill sponsored by Mr. Carignan, Bill S-230, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding drug-impaired driving, I believe there is a similar bill before the House, Bill C-226, but the bills deal with substantively different frameworks and issues. Therefore, from the perspective of the government, it does not meet the criterion regarding a similar piece of legislation before the House, which was set out by a ruling from Speaker Fraser. From our perspective, the bills are not substantively the same; therefore, the matter is constitutional and votable.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are starting to lose track of the number of times the Liberals have used this measure to curtail debate. One of the most solemn things that we have as a duty in the House as members of Parliament is to bring forward our constituents' views. By cutting off this debate, the minister is not allowing us to do that. There are very real concerns about this bill. I know that members on that side of the House like to dismiss them, but it is our job to give them voice in the House.

To pre-empt the minister if he wishes to reference our vote on Bill C-37, may I remind him that we did that vote because it was to save Canadian lives, but this bill has been languishing on the docket since June of last year. I do not understand what the rush is.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, our government made the overdose antidote naloxone more widely available in Canada. It saves Canadians' lives. I appreciate that our Minister of Health took this step.

Last November, the Minister of Health co-hosted a conference on opioid overdose crisis which resulted in 42 organizations bringing forward concrete proposals on their own.

Our government is also continuing to respond to the tragic crisis in the way that is comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate. We will continue to work with our partners across the country to continue bringing forward evidence-based solutions to save lives. That is why all members, as well as those across the way, are debating Bill C-37. We are all working together to save Canadians' lives.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's passion on this issue, but as he heard, 900 lives were lost in Vancouver. This is an urgent matter. We have to take steps. Evidence shows that when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites save lives and improve health without negatively impacting the surrounding communities.

Our minister brought forward Bill C-37. I want all members to support this valuable bill so we can save Canadian lives.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity 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.

While I am supporting this positive move, I must say I am still deeply troubled by this crisis that continues to hit communities. On a personal note, I was deeply touched after hearing from those affected. As a member of the Standing Committee on Health, I, with my colleagues from all parties, studied this crisis. In fact, we chose to pass a motion to undertake an emergency study of the crisis.

We were all in lockstep with the minister, trying to make a positive difference and to make choices that would save lives. That motivation drove us to work hard, and work together. We worked collectively and openly on this. That is something I am quite proud of and something I have valued in my time as the MP for Brampton South, and as a fellow parliamentarian of all who serve together in this place.

In committee, we heard from wide-ranging front-line perspectives, experts, and from the Minister of Health directly on this. I would like to make particular note of the testimony the committee heard from indigenous peoples on October 25, which I feel was compelling, honest, and a real wake-up call about what we need to do to ensure we address the needs of indigenous communities. For starters, improving access to naloxone treatment, the life-saving medication used in the case of an opioid overdose, was needed for rural and remote first nations in particular. That was a key part of the minister's action plan coming out of the summit, and goes to show what we can do when we consult all communities.

In looking at the bill, I see that Bill C-37 addresses what we heard from the Canada Border Services Agency about practical changes that would help prevent drug-making materials from entering the country. I applaud the minister's work also to check suspicious international mail packages that are 30 grams or less, which could be used to smuggle in any amounts of substances that may cause harm. This is a good precaution to benefit Canadians.

I want to remind colleagues that the bill is the product of hundreds of voices coming together. Our committee members were graciously invited to join in the health minister's summit on this as well. Coming out of the summit, we saw action. In fact, the joint statement of action by 42 organizations to address the opioid crisis was a broad but concrete approach that includes all those involved, from health care providers, to first responders, to educators, to researchers, and to families as well. I want to applaud our Minister of Health, and Ontario's minister of health as well, for leading that conference, which focused on concrete steps and delivering clear results.

Our government has taken action from day one, 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 lnsite for an additional four years. We made the overdose antidote naloxone more widely available in Canada. Our government recently approved three safe consumption sites in Montreal that the community asked for.

Further, at the local level, we have seen action already undertaken. In the city of Toronto, the mayor met with the mayor of Vancouver and other officials in order to plan a proactive not reactive response for Ontario as the crisis drifts eastward. The mayor of Hamilton held a discussion about this as well, and other municipalities have been doing the same. I hope more municipalities will reach out, learn from one another, and take proactive measures in their communities.

The numbers and the experts support this as the right way to public health, and it also delivers cost savings. I see how various aspects of the bill address a lot of the concerns we heard at committee and at the opioids summit. While many members have made note of the urgency of passing the bill, I think the majority of members showed time and time again in recent weeks that they were willing to collaborate to move quickly on this.

I want to reassure members that I believe the bill is an extremely collaborative and well-thought-out bill that responds to experts in the field as well as front-line needs. It gives me comfort to know that this bill would make a difference.

As others have said before, and I agree, we are in a national public health crisis in Canada. In 2016, thousands of Canadians tragically died of accidental opioid overdoses, and more will die this year. Our government and its partners must work together aggressively to save lives.

If people have friends or neighbours who are hearing the Conservatives' argument that facilities like Insite are the wrong approach, I would encourage them to contact me or other members on the health committee who would be happy to provide non-partisan, evidence-based information on why that does not reflect the safe consumption site model we see working already in Canada. All members of this House can agree that our hearts go out to the families and friends affected personally when a loved one has lost his or her life instead of having another chance. Last year in British Columbia alone, more than 900 people died from a drug overdose, an 80% increase from 2015.

This legislation simply proposes to ease the burden on communities that wish to open a supervised consumption site, while putting stronger measures in place to stop the flow of illicit drugs and strengthening the system in place for licensed controlled substances facilities. Experts and stakeholders told the previous government and then told our government that Bill C-2 as it stood was not helping this crisis. That is why we took action to reverse the barriers that were holding back communities that have long been asking for the ability to save their citizens' lives.

We know there is more to be done as we move forward. We know that sadly the situation is getting worse. The deaths from overdoses will now be greater than deaths caused by car accidents. This tragic crisis continues to move eastward in Canada, with increasing drug seizures of fentanyl and carfentanil across the country. We will continue to work with our partners across the country to continue bringing forward evidence-based solutions to save lives and ensure that 2017 is the year that will mark a turn in this national public health crisis.

Many people in Brampton South have asked me about my work on the health committee, and I have mentioned over and over that we all agreed we should turn our focus to this study due to the emergency at hand. They ask me why and they are always engaged when hearing about how we can work together at committee to address real problems and issues that our fellow Canadians face. Again, the way our committee worked together is one of the cherished moments I have of being an MP, and I hope we get more chances to work collaboratively again. This crisis called on us as leaders in our communities and as parliamentarians to take action.

In October 2016, I put forward a motion that the health committee call upon the Minister of Health to move as quickly as possible to conduct a review of the laws and regulations in place with regard to safe injection sites. I suggested that the review have an end goal to improve the health and safety of Canadians, using a strong evidence-based approach. With Bill C-37, I feel the minister and government have responded fully to the motion that the health committee passed in October of last year.

I am proud to be supporting this legislation that would save the lives of Canadians who need our help.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, I agree with the hon. member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook that there are many positive aspects in Bill C-37 but the real problem with the bill is that it would gut the Respect for Communities Act.

Some say that the criteria in the Respect for Communities Act is too onerous and I disagree with them. Nonetheless, we on this side of the House try to work with the government. We put forward some simple amendments that, for example, would require a letter of support from the local municipality and local police force, an amendment that would require that persons within a two-kilometre radius of a supervised injection site be consulted, and an amendment that would require a 45-day consultation period, given that Bill C-37 would gut the minimum 90-day consultation period.

What could possibly justify the government rejecting all three of these common-sense amendments? Is it really just because the government wants to gut—

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Brampton South.

The bill before is an extremely important one. We have a health crisis, and we need to respond quickly. Our government, with the support of many members in the House, is doing just that.

I would like to begin by extending my sympathy to all those who have lost a friend, neighbour, family member, or co-worker through this crisis.

In the past eight years in Nova Scotia alone there have been over 800 overdoses, and half of those have been due to the use of opioids. This is the situation in Nova Scotia, but the situation is much greater in other provinces. For example, in British Columbia, 900 people lost their lives through overdose in the last year, which is 80% more than in 2015. At a national level, overdoses now outnumber the deaths due to motor vehicle accidents. This gives us an interesting comparison, and shows how sad this crisis is.

This crisis has no boundaries. There is no age, gender, or income factor. This is an addiction; it is an illness. All governments need to respond to this crisis. We have to find the root causes and then find solutions through the most current evidenced-based policies to support that. Addictions can take hold of someone trying to cope with physical or emotional pain.

The tragic thing about fentanyl is that the drug is so powerful, a minuscule amount can have dramatic effects and even cause death. As little as 30 grams, enough to fill a regular envelope, can cause as many as 15,000 people to die of an overdose.

That is why our government and all members of the House must pass a bill quickly, because every moment counts.

This legislation would roll back changes made by the previous government, the so-called Respect for Communities Act. That legislation added an unnecessary burden on provinces, local governments, and communities in applying for an exception under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to establish a safe consumption site. Bill C-37 would accomplish this by simplifying and streamlining the previous process and its 26 application criteria. That is why only three sites in the last two years have been established under those criteria.

Our government is applying the wisdom of the Supreme Court of Canada, which indicated five important factors: one, evidence on the impact of such facilities on crime rates; two, local communities indicating that there is a need for those types of sites; three, establishing regulatory structures and making sure they are in place to support the sites; four, having the necessary resources; and, five, having communities express support or opposition. That is what is important and what the bill would provide. In addition, whichever applications are denied or approved, the decisions would be made public. It is important that they be public.

The fact is that supervised consumption sites save lives. That is the important thing here: they save lives. The Vancouver sites help integrate people with addiction problems into the health system in an environment where they are not judged or stigmatized.

Harm reduction is not our government's only strategy. Our government has made it clear that we will invest $5 billion in mental health as part of the health agreement.

Prior to 2006, the Government of Canada had a federal drug strategy that had a balanced approach between public health and public safety that included the four key pillars: prevention, treatment, enforcement, and harm reduction. The previous government removed harm reduction as a pillar in our national drug strategy. This was unfortunate, because evidence has shown time and time again that harm reduction strategies are needed to ensure good public health outcomes.

As part of this government's commitment to evidence-based policy-making, the Minister of Health has reinstated harm reduction as a pillar of our strategy.

Along with harm reduction, our government has also eased access to the life-saving overdose treatment naloxone. Canadians can now access this drug antidote without a prescription and we have ensured emergency supplies are available for all Canadians.

In terms of enforcement, the RCMP has been diligently working to try to stop the flow of fentanyl. An agreement was recently reached with China on this issue. Furthermore, under this legislation, the Canada Border Services Agency would have more flexibility to inspect suspicious mail which it believes may contain prohibited goods. This measure would only apply to incoming international mail from areas of the world where prevalence of illicit drugs is greater.

In closing, I would like to commend the Minister of Health for her hard work in combatting this crisis and working toward a solution, and her leadership in bringing this legislation forward. I also want to thank members in all parties in the House for their contribution to this debate, as well as the NDP, the Bloc, and the Green Party that have directly supported this bill.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Vancouver Kingsway for his work on this, and on the health committee. I had a chance to be part of the clause-by-clause on Bill C-37, and I appreciate all his efforts there.

I want to thank him for raising the comparison to pipelines, which has been made all too often here, that somehow there is a contradiction in trying to save lives and reducing the obstacles to saving lives that can be compared to the reasonable regulatory hurdles for building thousands of kilometres of pipeline across first nations lands, which would threaten every stream it crosses, and the oceans and coastlines that will be traversed by tankers carrying bitumen and diluent, which cannot be cleaned up. I found the comparison distasteful, and I appreciate him dealing with it in the House this afternoon.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

February 15th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, for any Canadians who are watching, I am glad that they can see that the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, the Green Party, and I am not sure about the Bloc, are willing and ready to move quickly on this legislation and not sit here and debate and slow down legislation when Canadians are dying every day.

It has been well established that Canada is currently in the grips of an unprecedented national public health emergency. I am glad to hear both my Liberal and Conservative colleagues increasingly using that term to describe the opioid crisis. The New Democratic Party started using the term back in November, and that is because this is a national public health emergency and our fellow Canadians are suffering and dying every single day.

Fifty Canadians are dying every week from opioid overdoses in this country. That is a national crisis. It also bears repeating that this crisis has become dramatically worse in recent months.

In 2016, in my home province of British Columbia alone, there were 914 drug overdose deaths. That is an 80% increase from the year before. In December, just a couple of months ago, we recorded the highest number of overdose deaths in B.C.'s history with 142 lives lost. That is more than double the monthly average of overdose deaths since 2015 and a sharp increase over September, October, and November. There were 57 overdose deaths in B.C. in September, 67 in October, 128 in November, and 142 in December. I can only guess that the number will be even higher for January. While the Conservatives want us to debate and consult, New Democrats want to act and save lives.

In December, the B.C. Coroners Service announced that morgues in the city of Vancouver were frequently full as a result of the unprecedented number of overdose deaths, forcing health authorities to store bodies at funeral homes.

This crisis is in large part the legacy of Canada's now defunct anti-drug strategy. Decades of a misguided criminal approach to drug policy has proven to be counterproductive, fuelling Canada's unregulated illegal drug market and leaving a scarcity of evidence-based health services, including harm reduction and treatment programs for people suffering from substance use disorder.

The Conservatives cut 15% from the addiction service budget in their last year in office. International research demonstrates that the criminalization of drugs increases rates of drug production, consumption, availability, and adverse drug-related health effects, but that is the evidence, and for the last 10 years our drug policy in this country was not based on evidence. It was based on ideology.

Because this crisis has been years in the making, it will not be solved by any one action or piece of legislation. I think we all know that. The passage of Bill C-37 must be the beginning of a much deeper examination of how we understand and respond to drug use and addiction in Canada.

For many years, New Democrats have been advocating for an evidence-based and health-focussed approach to drug use and addiction. Our party understands that substance use is not a moral failure. We also understand that criminal approaches that aim to punish or isolate those with addiction issues only serve to compound the suffering of those already experiencing tremendous pain.

As Dr. Gabor Maté, a Canadian physician who specializes in addictions has said:

Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. A hurt is at the center of all addictive behaviours. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden — but it’s there.

That is why New Democrats have pushed the federal government to reinstate harm reduction as one of the four pillars of Canadian drug policy ever since it was removed by Stephen Harper. That is why New Democrats led the fight against the Conservatives' Bill C-2 from the day it was introduced. That is why we have pressed the Liberal government to repeal or amend Bill C-2 since February 2016, one year ago, when the opioid overdose crisis was in its earliest stage.

Last fall, the NDP successfully moved a motion at the Standing Committee on Health to conduct a study on the opioid overdose crisis. This led to a report with 38 recommendations to the federal government, most of which have not yet been implemented, I would point out.

We were the first to call for a declaration of a national public health emergency. Such a declaration would empower Canada's Chief Public Health Officer to take extraordinary measures to coordinate a national response to the crisis, a measure the Liberal government, still to this day, refuses to take.

Last December, we attempted to fast-track Bill C-37 because of the dire need to deal with this crisis as quickly as possible, but that, again, was blocked by the Conservatives.

Indeed, Bill C-37 continues to be delayed because the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge the crucial importance of harm reduction, and the evidence that supervised consumption sites save lives now.

Today, I am saddened to see that the Conservatives still have not learned from their mistakes, and I am deeply troubled that they continue to liken supervised consumption sites and the approval of same to pipeline approval processes.

After their bizarre offer to trade supervised consumption site approvals for pipelines, at the health committee, the Conservative member for Lethbridge argued that these health facilities should require the same social licence as energy projects before they are permitted to save lives. The member argued that we must maintain Bill C-2's unnecessary barriers because the placement of a site will impact the communities in which they are located.

For once, I agree with the member for Lethbridge. It is absolutely correct that these sites do indeed impact communities: by saving lives, by reducing crime, and by providing opportunities for recovery to people suffering from a disease.

The Conservative Party likes to imagine that supervised consumption sites might be imposed on communities by the federal government. The opposite is true. Supervised consumption sites only exist in Canada due to the tireless efforts of advocates and community members who contribute their time and talent to provide evidence-based, life saving health services. Sometimes, they have even done so at the risk of their own liberty.

Vancouver's Dr. Peter Centre provided supervised consumption services, in violation of federal law, for over a decade, since 2002, before the federal government finally granted it a legal exemption.

Vancouver's Insite had to fight the federal government all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to keep its doors open. Even then, instead of complying with the spirit of the ruling, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper passed Bill C-2 as a thinly veiled attempt to prevent any new site from opening in Canada.

Today, as we speak, at least three overdose prevention sites are operating in the open in Vancouver without a legal exemption, against the law, exposing the staff who work there to criminal sanction because they are answering a higher call. They are answering the call of saving lives. That is why they are doing it.

The truth is supervised consumption sites do not harm communities; they help them. The evidence from Insite has been overwhelming and crystal clear.

By the way, the Conservatives talk about the negative impact of supervised consumption sites on communities. They never quote a single piece of evidence, not a shred, from any operating supervised consumption site because there are only two in Canada. Those two in Canada have been studied and written up in periodicals as respected as The Lancet and the evidence is crystal clear. They save lives. They reduce crime around the area. They stop open drug use. They reduce the spread of disease, and they stop the detritus of used needles in consumption sites from being out in the community where they can harm our community members and our children. That is the evidence.

When the Conservatives say that these sites impact communities, darn right they do, and they do so by helping the community. There is not an iota of evidence to the contrary.

Perhaps the Conservatives should listen to Edmonton's Mayor Don Iveson who recently said, “This is not a homeless, addicted issue. This is in pretty much every neighbourhood.”

The opioid crisis is here. It is already affecting our communities. Every day, it is claiming the lives of our friends, our family members, our neighbours.

The Conservative Party's argument that supervised consumption sites will somehow introduce opioid addiction to unaffected communities is baseless fearmongering, and it is deeply stigmatizing to Canadians with substance use disorders.

The truth is communities across Canada have been asking to open supervised consumption sites for years. It was by refusing to grant section 56 exemptions that the federal government was overruling both my home city of Vancouver and my home province's repeated requests. Indeed as Vancouver's Mayor Gregor Robertson has said: “Factors such as the impact of the site on crime rates and expressions of community support or opposition should not be relevant to the federal government's approval process. Those issues are local matters, and as such, are best dealt with by local officials, such as municipalities, health authorities, and local police agencies, who understand the issue.”

I will leave it to the Conservative Party to explain why it does not trust local authorities to make those determinations.

It has been community heroes, not the federal government, who have been on the front lines showing leadership throughout the current crisis. The efforts of these selfless people have undoubtedly saved lives and although there are too many to name individually here, I would like to specifically acknowledge the Herculean efforts of a few people.

The are: Ann Livingston and Sarah Blyth, founders of B.C.'s Overdose Prevention Society; Hugh Lampkin, long-time member of the Vancouver area network of drug users; Daniel Benson of the Portland Hotel Society; Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver; Kerry Jang, city councillor of Vancouver; Maxine Davis, executive director of Vancouver's Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation; Katrina Pacey, executive director of Vancouver's Pivot Legal Society; Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s Chief Medical Officer, the first and only medical officer in the country who has declared a public health emergency in British Columbia because he recognizes the extent of the crisis facing our community; and Dr. Gabor Maté, who is an internationally-renowned expert in addictions.

Having repeated requests for a declaration of a national public health emergency ignored by the current federal Liberal government, these front line organizations and the Government of British Columbia were forced to take the extraordinary measure of disregarding federal law by opening non-exempt pop-up supervised consumption sites which are operating right now as I speak. These sites have operated for months despite the daily risk of prosecution faced by those working at them as staff and volunteers.

Here is what the College of Registered Nurses of B.C. said to its membership last month.

This crisis may be prolonged and continue to worsen; as these overdose prevention services are being established across our province, in any place there is a need, we are being asked by nurses, “Is my licence at risk if I provide nursing care in these sites and conditions that can be less than ideal?”

Our courageous front line health workers should never be forced to ask that question.

That is why the NDP introduced an amendment at the health committee that would have allowed provincial health ministers to request in writing from the federal health minister emergency approval for supervised consumption sites in response to a local crisis.

Such an exemption would bypass the normal application process, and go into effect immediately for up to a year with the possibility of renewal. The federal minister would be required to post a provincial request online and post the response within five days.

This change was aimed at removing the potential for distant political considerations in Ottawa, many of which we hear expressed by members of the House today, to undermine or impede timely evidence-based decision responses to provincial public emergencies.

In the unusual situation where a province has declared a provincial health emergency, instead of forcing it to go through the application process which takes time, and time in a crisis like this costs lives, it gives the federal health minister the ability to grant a temporary approval quickly.

The Liberal government has repeatedly claimed that, with this legislation, it is now doing everything in its power to address this crisis, but that is demonstrably false. The government has failed to take many actions. There are literally dozens of them that are open to the government to take to respond to this crisis which it seems reluctant to do.

Recently, the City of Vancouver sent a list of nine recommendations to the federal government to help address this crisis, including calling for a central command structure, daily meetings with Health Canada, and improved treatment services.

A coroner's jury in British Columbia recently issued a list of 21 recommendations for action and the Standing Committee on Health in December issued a report detailing 38 recommendations for the government alone, again most of which remain unimplemented. The Liberal government is not doing everything it can to address the opioid crisis. It is taking some measures, but not all the measures it needs to.

When the health committee conducted the emergency study last fall into the crisis, the first recommendation made with all-party support was to declare opioid overdoses a national public health emergency. This call was echoed by Dr. David Juurlink, the keynote speaker at the health minister's own opioid summit last fall and now by B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake, a Liberal, and stakeholders across the country. In the face of a mounting death toll, a declaration of a national public health emergency would allow us to start saving more lives today.

Furthermore, during our study, the health committee heard that access to treatment for opioid addiction is almost nonexistent in indigenous communities, and where there is access, it is short-term access. That is because nurses employed by Health Canada do not have the scope of practice to support indigenous people in addressing opioid addiction in their own communities beyond 30 days. Yet, the Liberal government has made absolutely no commitment to ensuring full access to long-term, culturally appropriate addictions treatment in indigenous communities.

Finally, the health committee's recent report on the crisis made three separate and specific recommendations, calling for significant new federal funding for public community-based detox and addictions treatment. But the federal government will not commit to making any new funding available for detox and treatment in budget 2017, so far.

The health minister continues to recycle money dedicated to mental health, and claims that money can be used for addictions treatment. We are looking for new, specific, targeted funds for addictions treatment in this country. Mental health is a huge area, and there are many needs in this country. We all know that. We wanted targeted money from the government, and the government has refused to make that commitment so far.

I believe it behooves this House to be honest with itself. Would the federal government be so noncommittal and cautious in its approach if these deaths were caused by any other disease? As we look to the future, we must let go of our prejudices in order to hold on to our loved ones. Donna May, the founding member and facilitator of mumsDU, moms united and mandated to saving drug users, lost her daughter Jac to addiction at the age of 35. She said:

Most people would think that the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face was her death; the death of a child; the death of my only girl. However, that’s not it at all.

The hardest thing I’ve had to face in my life is realizing how my ignorance towards my daughter’s addiction cost me years with her that I will never get back. There are no ‘do-overs’ when your child is dead! Now I can only share my experience and what I’ve learned since, so that other parents can take something from it.

In many respects, substance abuse is one of the last remaining acceptable targets for health care discrimination. With all the evidence available to us, we should know better. If we are to succeed in treating addiction as a disease, which it is, we need to acknowledge that fear, stigma, and ignorance about those who suffer from addiction are widespread and in many respects have framed our approach to this crisis.

That is why, although these legislative changes are long overdue, they do not go far enough, fast enough. We need federal coordination and funding to address the crisis right now and over the long term. Canada's failure to treat addiction and substance use disorders by successive federal governments as a medical condition was explained to the health committee by Dr. Evan Wood from UBC.

He said:

I'll just ask you to imagine a scenario of somebody having an acute medical condition like a heart attack. They would be taken into an acute care environment. They would be seen by a medical team with ex1pertise in cardiology. The cardiovascular team would then look to guidelines and standards to diagnose the condition and to effectively treat it. Unfortunately, in Canada, because we haven't traditionally trained health care providers in addiction medicine, we have health care providers who don't know what to do, and routinely do things that actually put patients at risk.

In addition to the lack of training for health care providers, the overall lack of investments in this area has meant that there aren't standards, guidelines [or beds] for the treatment of addiction.

Dr. Mark Ujjainwalla, medical director of Recovery Ottawa, said:

The problem we face here is that the real issue with addiction is not opiates. The real issue is the inability of the present health care system to treat the disease of addiction. An addiction is a biopsychosocial illness that affects 10% of society, probably more if you include families, and it is the most underfunded medical illness in our society.

The problem is that it's also a highly preventable and very highly treatable illness. It's very unfortunate that people don't see that. When it affects your family or you, you can feel the pain and suffering, and you watch the tragedy unfold in front of you.

I would like to conclude my remarks by imploring this House to take a lesson from Estonia, a country that recently overcame an opioid crisis very similar to Canada's. The head of Estonia's drug abuse prevention department said, “I think the most important thing is you don't waste time. If you really want to learn from us, that's the mistake we made. Don't look for some new solutions, because you have them.”

We could say that history does not look kindly on those who dither in times of crisis. To put it bluntly, it is not the history books that should keep us up at night; it is the lives that we continue to lose every single day to entirely preventable causes.

Canadians are looking to us to provide leadership in a crisis. It is time for us to deliver.