Home » Ex-health minister Philpott says federal authorities ought to again drug decriminalization in Vancouver

Ex-health minister Philpott says federal authorities ought to again drug decriminalization in Vancouver

by newsking24

Former federal well being minister Jane Philpott is urging the federal authorities to “be bold” and approve Vancouver’s pitch to decriminalize easy possession of illicit medication to assist stem a rising tide of overdose deaths.

She mentioned the plan, which might require the federal cupboard’s approval, is “a very good idea” that would save lives — though she worries about federal reluctance attributable to public anxieties about decriminalization.

“It’s certainly the direction I think we should be taking and kudos on Vancouver for having some courageous steps in that direction,” she informed CBC News.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart introduced the proposal on Wednesday. He’ll first must get it accepted by metropolis council after which write to federal officers asking them to grant Vancouver an exemption underneath the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act permitting drug possession inside metropolis limits.

Stewart’s plan has the assist of native police and well being officers. The mayor mentioned that whereas only a few individuals are being arrested within the metropolis for easy possession proper now, the prospect of arrest — or of seeing one’s medication confiscated — discourages customers from getting assist in the well being system.

Vancouver has seen its variety of overdose deaths rise dramatically for the reason that starting of the pandemic; town has reported 328 overdose deaths for the reason that starting of the 12 months. The COVID-19 pandemic, in the meantime, has taken the lives of 320 individuals in the complete province of British Columbia over the identical time interval.

“The reality is that people are dying because of our criminal approach to substance dependence,” mentioned Philpott, now dean of well being sciences at Queen’s University.

“We have seen opioid overdose deaths skyrocketing across the country. The approach we’ve taken until now is not working and real people’s lives are on the line.”

Philpott first publicly declared her assist for legalizing small-scale possession for private use in December 2019, in an article she wrote for Maclean’s journal. She had left federal politics by that point.

Jane Philpott says Vancouver’s bid to get a federal exemption to decriminalize small-scale possession may be difficult. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Vancouver’s proposal is a superb alternative for the nation to test-drive the concept of decriminalization, Philpott mentioned — however getting a federal exemption would possibly not be simple.

Many Canadians are nonetheless frightened by the concept of drug decriminalization, she mentioned, including it is one thing she’s acquainted with from her personal time as federal well being minister.

Even throughout the public conversations about legalizing leisure hashish use, she mentioned, many argued that legalization amounted to endorsing or encouraging its use.

Still, she mentioned she believes an increasing number of individuals are disturbed by the hovering charges of overdose deaths and are searching for options.

“I do think we’re in a period of time where it would be a good measure for the government to be bold and hopefully support a change like this,” she mentioned.

No dedication from Ottawa

In response to Vancouver’s announcement, Health Minister Patty Hajdu launched an announcement saying she has been working with the mayor and the B.C. authorities to deal with the overdose disaster.

She gave no clear indication of whether or not the bid for decriminalization will be accepted.

“We will review this request to address criminal penalties for simple possession of small amounts of controlled substances, and will continue our work to get Canadians who use substances the support they need,” Hajdu mentioned within the assertion.

In the previous, federal officers — together with Hajdu and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — have insisted decriminalization isn’t the “silver bullet” that can resolve the opioid disaster. They’ve mentioned the emphasis should be on different measures — comparable to improved entry to provides of protected opioids, quite than the contaminated and extremely poisonous road medication believed to be driving the surge in overdose deaths.

Time has come for 3-digit suicide hotline, says Philpott

The former well being minister additionally needs to see her colleagues embrace one other thought that would save lives.

Conservative MP Todd Doherty is looking on Canada to create a nationwide 988 suicide prevention hotline that might consolidate current suicide prevention providers. 

The thought can also be being championed by some psychological well being specialists, who say {that a} easy, easy-to-remember quantity might save lives.

The United States is halfway by means of a four-year technique of establishing a nationwide 988 service. It’s anticipated to price $570 million US within the first 12 months. Almost half that cash is a one-time expense to interchange switches within the cellphone community.

A 988 hotline in Canada could be “extremely helpful,” she mentioned — significantly when so many Canadians are underneath heavy stress attributable to the pandemic.

“I think it’s an effort that would be a great national project for us to all get behind,” she mentioned. “To let people know that when they’re struggling to decide whether life is worth living … Canadians are prepared to try to find those resources and make them as easily available as possible.”

She famous that whereas there might be technological challenges in establishing the service and bringing collectively service suppliers throughout the nation, none of them are insurmountable.

In the House of Commons on Monday, Doherty requested the federal well being minister whether or not she would strive to make sure his 988 movement acquired unanimous assist to move straight away.

Hajdu did not give a transparent reply however did say that she would work with Doherty to make sure people who find themselves contemplating suicide get speedy care.

Philpott mentioned she believes that whereas it might take time, the 988 hotline is an thought all Parliamentarians can get behind.

“My message is, work together. Don’t worry about who gets the credit for this. This is all about helping one another in their time of need.”


Where to get assist:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Phone) | 45645 (Text) | crisisservicescanada.ca (Chat)

In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour disaster centre


If you are apprehensive somebody could also be vulnerable to suicide, you need to speak to them about it, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning indicators: 

Suicidal ideas, substance abuse, a way of purposelessness, anxiousness, feeling trapped, hopelessness and helplessness, withdrawal, anger, recklessness, temper adjustments.

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