Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, was in Surrey, British Columbia to highlight additional federal support for the opioid crisis announced last month in Budget 2017, part of the Government’s agenda to support Canadians at every stage of their lives, transform our neighbourhoods and communities, and give every Canadian a real and fair chance at success.
“We are facing a national public health crisis related to opioids, and our Government is committed to doing all that we can to help fight this ongoing crisis from every angle. I am pleased to confirm that Budget 2017 includes a total of $116 million in federal funding to support our comprehensive and collaborative response to the crisis, while we continue to work with our partners to find solutions that work for the many affected communities across our country.” -The Honourable Jane Philpott,
Minister of Health
Minister Philpott highlighted $116 million in federal funding to help address the ongoing opioid crisis, $100 million of which will be invested over the next five years in national measures associated with the new Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy. This strategy, announced in December 2016, reinstates harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada’s drug policy, and addresses various concerns related to the opioid crisis. This federal funding will be used to:
- fund community-based projects to reduce the harms associated with drug use, and to prevent and control infectious diseases that can result from the sharing of drug use equipment;
- enhance national data surveillance and monitoring;
- support research on problematic substance use;
- enhance regulatory activities to manage the risks of opioids and reduce access to unnecessary opioids;
- increase national lab testing capacity;
- develop and implement a national public awareness campaign on problematic substance use; and
- expand supports for First Nations and Inuit communities, such as access to naloxone kits and suboxone programs.
This funding builds on the $16 million previously announced to address opioid-related public health emergencies in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as $570 million already earmarked over the next five years to support existing programs, such as Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program and the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse.
Bill C-37 introduces amendments to allow for enhanced controls and enforcement to help prevent substances from getting into the black market and would improve our government’s ability to:
- Support the establishment of supervised consumption sites, as a key harm reduction measure;
- Address the illegal supply, production and distribution of drugs; and
- Reduce the risk of controlled substance used for legitimate purposes being diverted to the illegal market by improving compliance and enforcement Tools.
Evidence shows that when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites save lives and improve health without negatively impacting surrounding communities. They provide hygienic facilities, sterile equipment and are supervised by qualified staff members who can provide advice on harm reduction and treatment options, as well as prevent an overdose.
To address supply of illicit opioids on Canadian streets we must also ensure they cannot be easily produced. We have listened and are responding to jurisdictions such as British Columbia: Bill C-37 proposes to prohibit unregistered importation of pill presses and encapsulators. While these devices have legitimate uses, they can be used to make counterfeit drugs.
The Department of Health regulates activities of over 600 licenced dealers, who manufacture, sell and distribute controlled substances. However, currently the Minister of Health has limited capacity to address instances of non-compliance by these regulated parties. Bill C-37 would help to reduce the risk of diversion by creating a more robust and effective compliance and enforcement regime that encourages timely compliance and deters non-compliance. This would include the establishment and operation of an administrative monetary penalty scheme along the lines of what is found in other modern federal legislation.