Even though several major cities from Canada would like to decriminalize drugs, the federal government does not support this idea.
Canada’s drug crisis
A report was recently released by Toronto’s board of health, which got Montreal’s support, that urges the decriminalization of drugs by the federal government. The director of Montreal’s public health department, Mylene Drouin, seems to approve of this suggestion. Last month, a Health Canada report showed that last year, almost 4,000 Canadians died due to opioid overdose. 303 of these deaths happened in Toronto, while 140 took place in Montreal for a time period of a little bit more than a year.
The decriminalization of drugs is not the solution
Several health officials and advocates from British Columbia, including Greg Roberston – the Mayor of Vancouver, are in favor of the decriminalization of drugs. In 2017, approximately 335 deaths related to opioid use were recorded in Vancouver. However, the federal government is not changing its mind, believing that decriminalizing drugs will not fix all these problems, contrary to the beliefs of the public health departments from the three cities mentioned before.
According to a spokesman for Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Thierry Belair, the federal government has no intention of legalizing or decriminalizing drugs beyond cannabis. However, this does not mean that more access to treatment is not needed, as Ottawa has already started taking measures in regard to this drug problem. Based on what Belair stated, it is now easier to have access to opioid substitution therapies than before, due to some changes made by the federal government.
Nothing will change for now
The national director of research and public policy at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Fardous Hosseiny, who is also supporting the idea of decriminalization, has used Portugal as an example for what could the results be if the federal government would adopt the desired changes.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca