moved for leave to introduce Bill C-286, 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 introduce the health-based approach to substance use act. I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver East, for seconding this proposed legislation and for her tireless advocacy for evidence-based drug policy.
We all know that the situation is dire. Nearly 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. In British Columbia, over 1,700 people died of overdoses in 2020 alone, the deadliest year on record.
Decades of criminalization, a toxic illicit street supply and a lack of timely access to harm reduction, treatment and recovery services have 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 provides 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 these urgent and necessary steps to address Canada's overdose epidemic.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)