MP Report: The Addiction Crisis & Government Drug Policies

I recently spent a day door knocking in our community and the two top issues I heard at the doorsteps related to families experiencing an affordability crisis along with drug-related crimes and addiction. Many people gave me examples of safety issues they’ve experienced around open drug usage.

We are seeing the tragic results of the provincial NDP government, supported by the federal Liberal government, drug decriminalization policy experiment on our streets and in families.

BC was the first province in Canada to implement illicit drug decimalization policies which took effect on January 1st, 2023. 

In 2023, the coroner's office sadly reported 2,511 deaths --- the highest rate of overdose deaths in British Columbia’s history where roughly one person every 4 hours fatally overdosed.

These aren’t just statistics - these are family members and neighbours.

While no one solution will solve this public health crisis, what the government is doing isn’t working, and in fact many argue are making it worse.

Federal Liberal and NDP Members ignore solutions to get addiction treatment and recovery to people suffering from addiction, like when they voted down my Private Members Bill C-283 - End the Revolving Door Act.

Dozens of leading addiction doctors have now come out imploring the federal government to cancel or amend Canada’s “safe supply” policies citing the federal government misrepresented the programs to the public, causing further harm to communities and vulnerable people with addictions, as they are seeing new patients suffering from addiction and overdoses. 

Yet the federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions doubled down in statements at committee on her unwavering commitment to their drug policies.

I spoke in the House of Commons on behalf of parents in my community and across BC raising their concerns about bringing their children to parks and playgrounds due to permitted open drug use.

Crime has become rampant in our neighbourhoods, hurting families and small businesses.

It was reported recently in Kamloops where a mother found what appeared to be a baggie of drugs in her kids’ candy haul at an Easter egg hunt.

On the criminal justice side of this, the current federal government’s soft on crime approach brought forth Bill C-5, which removed minimum sentences for many serious crimes including drug trafficking and the production of illicit drugs.

The removal of deterrence measures is something that Canada’s Conservative Official Opposition opposes. Recognizing addiction as a public health issue does not mean reducing the consequences for those who prey on vulnerable people.

It has been widely reported that the serious problem of government supplied, tax-payer funded hard drugs end up in the hands of organized crime to be trafficked in the black market across Canada, fueling the toxic drug crisis.

The RCMP in Campbell River, BC, and most recently in Prince George, BC, seized thousands of prescription drug pills, many of which were diverted from the BC government’s safe supply program.

A recently leaked internal memo from BC’s Northern Health Authority revealed how staff at hospitals had been instructed to tolerate drugs and weapons in their workplace. The backlash was swift.  Though this memo was through a provincial body, the federal government’s drug decimalization policies have been cited as a catalyst.

The BC Nurses’ Union president stated that open drug use and weapons have become “a widespread issue of significant magnitude” and that the problems increased dramatically after drug decriminalization; where “before there would be behaviours that just wouldn’t be tolerated, whereas now because of decriminalisation, it is being tolerated.” Nurses have cited examples of health and safety issues.

About three years ago, the first US State to implement drug decriminalization was Oregon. Just recently, Democratic regulators in Oregon recognized their public failure in drug decriminalization and voted to reverse course.

It's not too late for the federal government to recognize their mistake in approving the BC government’s drug policy request, and to reverse it.

Conservatives are focused on strengthening laws to focus on victims, not criminals, and on treatment and recovery to help those suffering from addiction.