Mr. Speaker, I rise again today to address a serious issue that is causing thousands of deaths in Canada each year. The importing and exporting of dangerous drugs and substances is a serious threat to Canadians. More must be done.
I introduced Bill C-338, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act with regard to punishment in order to increase sentences for offences related to the importing and exporting of controlled drugs and substances. Bill C-338 indicates that if the subject matter of the offence is less than one kilogram of a substance included in Schedule I or in Schedule II, he or she is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for life, with a minimum sentence of two years. It also indicates that if the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule I and is in an amount that is more than one kilogram, the person is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for life, with a minimum punishment of three years.
The current sentence is too light. This is unacceptable. It does not deter drug traffickers from continuing to import, export, and profit at the expense of society's most vulnerable. The reality is that criminals who import and export deadly drugs and substances are responsible for thousands of lost lives.
Canadian families expect safe and healthy communities in which to raise their children. Canadians are especially concerned about crime, which is why the former Conservative government introduced and passed over 30 measures aimed at strengthening our justice system, standing up for victims, and keeping our streets safe. Canadians lose faith in the criminal justice system when they feel that the punishment does not fit the crime. We make no apologies for strengthening penalties for drug trafficking or other crimes. We must ensure that sentencing still reflects the desire of Canadians to get tough on drug dealers and other criminals.
We are in the grips of a deadly fentanyl epidemic. In Ontario, about two people a day die due to opioid overdoses, and most involve fentanyl. A few months ago, the former health minister claimed that Canada needed more data on the opioid overdose crisis. I was shocked. The reality is that fentanyl is on our streets and people are dying. We do not need more research; we need action now. Bill C-338 will do that.
In 2016, opioids claimed the lives of at least 2,458 Canadians, according to a new estimate released by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Light sentences make it appealing for drug dealers to produce illegal substances in basements, labs, and kitchens. These dangerous drugs are produced in such conditions that it is impossible to predict the strength of each dose. In my riding of Markham—Unionville, a drug lab was discovered in the heart of an upper-middle-class residential neighbourhood. This forced residents to evacuate their homes. From coast to coast to coast, no community in any member's riding is immune to this epidemic. I truly understand the need for robust prevention and treatment options for addicts, but we cannot rehabilitate dead bodies.
As it stands, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act provides inadequate and unintimidating punishment for criminals who import and export lethal drugs and substances. Those who import and export these drugs and substances must be brought to justice and must face increased mandatory minimum sentences. Our constituents expect us to do more to keep our children and communities safe.