Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much for coming to the committee today.
I do think this is an important issue, because I think a lot of people are very worried about substance use and the drug issue in local communities. I think equally as important is how we respond to that issue. I have to say that actually my first question was going to be exactly the same as the one Mr. Bagnell asked and exactly the same as the one Madame Freeman asked, because when you read the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, section 7, it appears already that it's quite clear that the materials and the precursor materials and so on are already illegal, and there are very stiff sanctions, including imprisonment for up to life.
When you say that your bill will target people who knowingly use these substances, I actually don't see that in the bill. The only thing I can see that's different in your bill is that it talks about equipment. Maybe I'll just make a couple of comments. That's one thing. I think you do need to clarify that.
I don't know if you're aware, but Health Canada in 2002 actually did change the regulations to ensure that all of the precursor materials were included. In fact, I know there was a summit of western premiers in 2004.
I'm curious, because you're saying that the use of crystal meth has actually been increasing, and I'd like you to provide evidence of that. There have been some reports out recently that since 2004--because we only have figures up till 2004--there's been a lot more attention on the impact of crystal meth, and there is a sense that the use has actually been going down, because there's been a really strong response from the police and local communities, parent groups, school groups, and so on, advocacy groups, groups working with young people, which focuses much more on education.
I was actually thinking that the approach here is to really strengthen the prevention and education approach we have. I don't know if you're familiar with the very good report that came out of the City of Vancouver in November 2005. You can go on the website and get it. It's called, Preventing Harm from Psychoactive Substance Use, and it does focus some of its attention on crystal meth.
They, again, really reinforce the idea that because this stuff is so easily available, the real solution is to focus on education and prevention with young people. In my own community in Vancouver, we do know, for example, that often street kids who are homeless are actually using crystal meth to stay awake, because they're on the street, and they have to be alert. They're very vulnerable. They're at risk. So there's an association at least in that aspect between the drug use and another issue, which is people being homeless. We've got to tackle that in order to deal with the drug use.
So my questions would be, one, I'm not clear on how your bill would be different from what we already have. Two, I think you need to provide some information backing up what you say, that the use is increasing. And three, what should we be doing in terms of prevention? To me, the evidence is showing that that's really where the change is taking place, where we're actually getting through to people.