Mr. Chairman and committee members, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse appreciates the opportunity to meet with you today to share information on methamphetamine as you consider Bill C-428.
As you may know, CCSA is Canada's national non-governmental organization formed in 1988 by an act of Parliament to provide national leadership and evidence-informed analysis and advice on substance abuse and use in Canada. CCSA recognizes the harms associated with the use and production of methamphetamine and therefore supports efforts to reduce levels of use, production, and availability in Canada.
I thank my colleagues from the RCMP for speaking to the practical enforcement concerns related to the ease with which methamphetamine can be produced using legally available materials in Canada. In light of CCSA's mandate and expertise, my presentation will focus on providing the committee with a summary of evidence on the use of methamphetamine in Canada in order to inform your discussion and provide a context for these very real and practical enforcement-related concerns.
I would like to begin by emphasizing the need to ensure that any response to substance use is evidence-informed. In order to respond effectively to methamphetamine use in a community, we need an accurate picture of the problem, including the extent of use, characteristics of users, social context, and sources of distribution. As an example, the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, supported by CCSA, is currently piloting a rapid assessment methodology that brings together a range of community resources to assess and act on developing substance use issues.
Maintaining current information on substance use at both national and community levels also facilitates the identification of problems in the early stages. This early identification allows communities to gather the health, enforcement, and other social resources needed for a proactive, comprehensive approach to the problem.
Overall, available prevalence data indicates that only a small proportion of Canadians currently use or have ever used methamphetamine. There is also evidence that rates of use in many locations have stabilized or are declining. I would, however, like to emphasize that I do not present these statistics to minimize the potential impact of meth on users, on their families, and on communities, but to provide you with what we know about the scope of the problem in order to inform your discussion.
At the national level, we currently have limited data specific to methamphetamine use. The 2004 Canadian addiction survey categorized methamphetamine under the general category of “speed and other amphetamines”, therefore breaking out what proportion of the 0.8% who reported past-year use of speed and amphetamines—