Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise to speak to the motion. Let me first thank the member for Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for bringing this motion to the floor and raising the issue in the House of Commons.
At some point in time, all members in the House have been touched by this incredible issue of addiction, substance misuse in our own communities. Perhaps we have come to know people who have lost their lives. The thing about substance misuse and drug addiction is that it is entirely preventable.
In fact, on the question of overdose, there is overwhelming evidence to illustrate the fact that we need to look at substance misuse as a medical health issue and not a criminal justice issue. That is how we can save lives.
To the point of this motion, this is exactly what the member is trying to do, to take away the criminal element so we can save lives.
Imagine for one minute what life would be like if one of our children, a son or daughter, who might be young, is experimenting, takes drugs, and at that moment in time a life is lost. Imagine what that would be like. I cannot imagine. I am a mother of two young kids, aged 13 and 8. I dread the teenage years to come, the idea of kids experimenting, some horrible, unimaginable thing happening, and lives being lost.
I see this in my own community in Vancouver East. So many people's lives have been lost. There is a saying that dead people do not detox and that is why we need harm reduction. That is why we need to move forward in addressing this from a medical health perspective.
The member's bill is one piece in the harm reduction spectrum on which we need to move forward. We need to tell people that they do not need to worry about a criminal charges being laid against them. In this instance, it would be limited to only simple possession but, nonetheless, it is equally important to send that message.
Additional work needs to be done. There is no question about it. My colleague, the health critic, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, attempted to move in that direction at committee. He moved an amendment to call for expanding the scope of the bill to allow for additional measures. For example, people in my community say that it is not so much that they worry about a charge of simple possession, they worry about outstanding warrants. They worry about violating their parole, for example, and that there would be implications for them. Young people gather at these things called raves. They party and bad things happen. There is no definition of “at the scene”, the scope of that, and whether it would apply to a group of people in that context.
If we want to move in this direction, more work needs to be done and we need to keep pushing to ensure that the issue around substance misuse is looked at from a health perspective. Addiction is a health issue. I know the former Conservative government thought it was a criminal justice issue alone.
I was relieved to hear the conviction of the member who spoke before me to save lives. Let us look at this issue from that perspective. I would assume that if we believe in that and on the evidence that has been presented, we would all agree that the time has come for the government to also repeal C-2, because that prevents saving lives.
The medical health officer in my community in Vancouver, British Columbia, has said on the public record that Bill C-2 impedes progress in moving forward with respect to harm reduction in terms of bringing supervised injection facilities into communities. The litany of onerous requirements prevent medical health officers to move forward on bringing supervised injection facilities into communities.
As it stands right now, there is only one application before the government, and that is from Montreal. My community has tried to move forward with others and has been unable to get it on the table because of the onerous requirements.
The medical health officer from Vancouver, Patricia Daly, has said on the public record that Vancouver is struggling to try to move forward on this because of the onerous requirements on Bill C-2. We need to get rid of this bill. Let us get real about saving lives. This measure is an important one. I absolutely support it, but we cannot stop there. There is so much more that we can do. The fact is that we do have a crisis, a national crisis, on our hands with the opioid overdose situation.
The desperation in my own community is such that there are pop-up tents. In fact, there is one pop-up tent that has emerged in our community. Volunteers have come forward to provide for some measure of safety for drug users. They say that they would not want to continue this operation because it is not a sanctioned site. There are no health practitioners at the site, but they are doing this. Why? Because they have seen their loved ones die. They actually provide naloxone to the tune of up to 24 cases where they have utilized that to save lives on the ground. Each day when the site is up and running, up to 100 people inject at that site.
This should not be how we continue. It should not be the case. We need to bring forward science-based and proven strategies to address this. A safe site, Insite, is one of those measures. We need to ensure there is progress here, and take away measures that hamper progress in that regard. Bill C-2 is one of them.
I once again thank the member for bringing this forward. I support the bill. I applaud his efforts. More work needs to be done, and I look forward to working with all members of the House and moving forward with this goal in mind: we need to bring in measures to save lives.