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Health-based Approach to the Substance Use ActRoutine Proceedings

December 15th, 2021 / 3:20 p.m.
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Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-216, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to enact the Expungement of Certain Drug-related Convictions Act and the National Strategy on Substance Use Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce the health-based approach to the substance use act. I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, for seconding this proposed legislation, for his tireless advocacy for evidence-based drug policy and for this bill, which was tabled by the very same member in the 43rd Parliament.

We all know the situation is dire; over 20,000 Canadians have died of overdoses in the last five years, and in the shadow of COVID-19 the opioid overdose epidemic has rapidly worsened across Canada. Decades of criminalization, a toxic illicit street supply and a lack of timely access to harm reduction, treatment and recovery services has caused this escalating epidemic. It is time to treat substance use and addiction as the health issues they truly are, and to address stigma and trauma. This bill would provide a comprehensive approach to do just that by decriminalizing personal drug possession, providing for record expungement, ensuring low-barrier access to safe supply, and expanding access to harm reduction, treatment and recovery services.

I call on all parliamentarians to support this bill and these urgent and necessary steps to address Canada's overdose epidemic.

This bill would save lives.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)