January 31, 2017

CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I think the member meant to refer to the fact that unanimous consent was not given to expedite a bill at all stages without debate. I do not think he meant to say that we objected to the discussion of the bill at that time. I think he might want the opportunity to clarify that—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

Order. That probably goes outside the category of a point of order. We are closer to the category of debate as to the facts that have been rendered to the House. Perhaps there will be another occasion where the hon. member might bring that matter up. We will go back to the hon. parliamentary secretary. I think he was essentially finished raising his question, but I will let him finish and then we will go back to the hon. member.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux

Mr. Speaker, the essence of the question was there, just reinforcing that the Conservatives did have the opportunity to have this bill expedited, and the NDP members were supporting the inclination do do so.

Would my colleague concur that we, as a government, are very much aware of the national crisis, and we are doing what we can to make sure that this crisis is dealt with?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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LIB

Dan Ruimy

Liberal

Mr. Dan Ruimy

Mr. Speaker, I am a new MP. What I can remember is that years ago when the first consumption site in B.C. was brought in there was so much uproar against it. It was challenged over and over again.

I am a member of Parliament today, able to respond and able to actually implement this. What would have happened if we had done this years ago? Would we still be where we are today? Would we still be in a crisis situation?

The time for talk is over. That is why I am proud of Bill C-37. It is taking action when it needs to be taken.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, very briefly, with respect to the claims about safe injection sites saving lives, I have read a lot of the data. What it points to is overdose interventions that have taken place at safe injection sites, so called.

I have not read any evidence on the impact of those safe injection sites on overall drug use and the possible risks that are associated with, in general, the creation of a more permissive attitude towards drug use. I am open to the information if the member is aware of such data. I would be very interested in hearing it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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LIB

Dan Ruimy

Liberal

Mr. Dan Ruimy

Mr. Speaker, the information on safe consumption sites and the science behind it is very clear. That is just one part of the puzzle.

If we do not address mental health at a young age, that is what they turn to. This is just a piece of a puzzle in a complex equation. We need to have the means for people to go, and for them to remember that while they are there, people are trying to help them find a better way. That is part of the success of that program.

The alternative is to do nothing and double the number of deaths we see going on in my province. That is not acceptable to me. We need to move forward on this. That is why I am supporting Bill C-37.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and join this debate. The record will show that my colleague who just spoke, although he had some important and thoughtful comments in response to my question, did not address my specific question about the evidence. I will come back to that later in my speech.

Let me just start with a brief overview of the context of what we are debating. Certainly, we all appreciate the critical importance of this discussion. We agree throughout the House on the critical importance of action in response to the crisis that we see. It is a crisis indeed of public health, a crisis around drug use in Canada. The government has come forward with legislation with a number of different components to it, some of which we agree with, some of which we think could be done right away even without legislation. We certainly have a concern around the government's view with respect to supervised injection, with respect to the consultation process in particular envisioned by this new legislation.

I want to say at the outset that it is unfortunate that we are confronted with a piece of legislation that seeks to combine, in my view, a number of disparate and unconnected elements. They are not wholly unconnected of course. They deal with, broadly speaking, the same subject but they move in a different direction from each other. Our view of the need to move quickly on this would certainly be around some of the provisions but not around others.

The parliamentary secretary earlier in the debate alluded to the fact that there was an effort to get unanimous consent around this entire bill. In general, in almost every case I would be very concerned about proposals to give unanimous consent without debate to any legislation. Certainly it is up to the government to schedule that legislation in a way that reflects its priorities, but to ask for unanimous consent without debate raises some concerns. I am sure there would have been a willingness to move much faster had the government not intentionally combined in the same piece of legislation certain measures that are necessary for public safety and that we all support and certain measures that are much more controversial.

All of us are concerned about the crisis. All of us want to see action. That is why to see from the government this playing of politics, this fusing of disparate elements in one bill to try to obviously create a poison pill when we could be moving faster with action on which we agree is unfortunate, again given the urgency of the situation that we confront.

Let me now proceed to identify specifically the different sections of the bill and share my perspective on them.

This bill seeks to prohibit the importation of designated devices unless registered with the Minister of Health. We agree with that section. We think that makes sense.

The bill seeks to grant Canada Border Services Agency more powers to search packages if the CBSA has reasonable grounds to suspect that the mail contains goods that are prohibited, controlled, or regulated. This is a simple and sensible enforcement measure that again would limit the importation of certain things into Canada and we see that as a positive.

The bill seeks to expand the offence of possession, protection, sale, or importation of anything intended to be used to produce or traffic any controlled substance out of the legitimate supply chain by adding substances under schedule V. These are further changes again around the importation and enforcement area. Again, I am supportive of that.

The bill seeks to authorize the minister to quickly and temporarily add substances to a schedule under the act that the minister has reasonable grounds to believe pose a risk to the public's health and safety.

So far, there is a lot that we would find a consensus in this House around because these are measures oriented toward effective enforcement and certainly things that speak to an opportunity and an urgency of responding.

Then we have this problem that the bill calls for mechanisms that would significantly expedite the process for application to open a supervised injection site. It would limit the consultation. It would reduce the consultation window and would reduce the number of people who have to be involved in that consultation.

I do not support that change. It is not a helpful way of moving forward in response to this problem, and it raises other problems as well.

As much as there is the consultation piece that we need to discuss, I do not have a problem saying that I have broader concerns about the evidence around and the impact of supervised injection sites. There are legitimate questions about what actually is the most effective and compassionate response, the response most likely to save lives.

I had the opportunity to visit the safe injection site in Vancouver. I do not know how many members have had that opportunity, but it was before I was a member of Parliament. About 10 years ago, I was visiting Vancouver as a student. It might surprise members to know that even then I was very interested and engaged in public policy debates. I went to visit the area of the community where this injection site was. While I was walking in the area, I met a gentleman who was involved in the whole area of drugs. He offered to show me around the neighbourhood and to introduce me to some people. He then took me to see the supervised injection site. It was a really useful opportunity for me to get an understanding of an important public policy question and to talk directly to the people who were affected.

One question I recall specifically asking that gentleman was how he got into this, what things happened in his life that had led him down this path. I will not go into all the details, but he spoke about some of the challenges in his family, some of the ways in which drugs were normalized in the environment in which he grew up, and the kinds of relationships and interactions with his family.

It was striking to me that the most compassionate response to people in this situation was not to assume that the continuation of their use of drugs was inevitable. I do not think that is the most compassionate response. I know that those who believe in safe injection sites are motivated by compassion, but I would regard it in a certain sense as a rather pessimistic form of compassion. It assumes the response has to be one of providing access to something that is extremely dangerous and yet trying to reduce that danger as much as possible.

My honest view is that a better kind of compassion is a more optimistic sort of compassion, one that in every interaction with people suffering with the challenges of addiction and drug use seeks to provide them with opportunities and tools to stop using these dangerous substances. It is not, as one member of the government suggested, a choice between these supervised injection sites and doing nothing. There are many other alternatives. We need to work aggressively for those alternatives. Perhaps that means more investment in chemical detox facilities. Perhaps that means having a conversation about mandatory detox. I am not here to come out definitively in favour of that, but that is an option to be discussed. Perhaps it means enhancing education and early intervention. All of these are with the direction of saying that we are not going to develop a permissive attitude to something where the harm is so significant and so present.

We all have a shared motivation in what we want to see happen, but the kind of compassion that motivates my concerns around supervised injection sites is fundamentally more optimistic in what I believe is possible for people who are in these kinds of difficult situations. That is an important distinction to be drawn in this discussion.

With respect to drug policy, there is sometimes the implication from those who favour a more liberal regime with respect to drug laws that criminalization inherently entails some kind of moral judgment. I do not think that is true. The law should criminalize behaviour that is dangerous and that criminalization creates opportunities for the police to intervene. However, that does not in any way, necessarily, entail moral judgment.

That intervention, in fact, may be in the best interest of the person in terms of protecting his or her safety. It may create opportunities for legal intervention that would start the person on a road to greater awareness, greater support, and to access resources that, in the absence of this intervention, might not access or know exists. I will not pretend that this happens in every case where there is a legal intervention, but I would like to believe that in a multi-pronged approach that emphasizes public health and dealing with root causes, we need to also recognize that legal intervention can play an important role in helping people go in a different direction.

I was speaking earlier about the opportunities I have had to have conversations with people who are struggling with these issues. I know one of the most important parts of this discussion is the way in which people's own families can engage with them and support them. This is an area that needs further discussion and perhaps further investment from government.

There is an organization in my community called Parents Empowering Parents. It works directly with the parents and families of those who are struggling with drug use issues. This organization is so effective because it empowers those who are necessarily right on the front lines of dealing with these problems, not because they are in some professional capacity but because they have close, intimate, personal relationships with those who are in this situation. So often family can be the critical support involved. Therefore, this is another area where further discussion and investigation is merited.

There are a few other comments I want to make with respect to the legislation. I have talked about the principles around having supervised injection sites, but what the legislation deals with specifically is the process of consultation for opening a supervised injection site. It is legitimate that the neighbourhoods, communities, and municipalities that will be affected profoundly by these decisions have a fair and full opportunity to be involved in the consultation and ensure not only that they are informed but that the consultation actually gives them the opportunity to have some say with respect to the outcome.

We should recognize that communities, neighbourhood groups, and municipalities are aware of these problems, are compassionate in their desire to respond, and to respond in a way that is most effective and appropriate for their communities. It is not reasonable to assume that we should somehow take away their power to influence the process and that this will make the situation better. Communities on the front lines of these issues are certainly made up of people who want to help, but they may also want to have input about what kind of strategy to respond to the challenge of drug use makes the most sense in the context of their communities. Community groups, mayors, and individuals would want to be part of that discussion.

I would ask members across the way to reflect on how they would feel if a supervised injection site were proposed within their immediate communities. I am sure there are some members who would be supportive of that. There are others who would perhaps not be supportive. However, I suspect that all members, if it were their families in the immediate area, would want to be aware of and given an opportunity to have some constructive input with respect to the form of response taken within that community. They might have ideas and insights that an external organization coming into the community would not have. They might know things or appreciate opportunities and resources that are not on the radar of some external organization.

If something like that were contemplated in my own community, I would want to ensure that I and others in my community had the fulsome opportunity to be part of the discussion.

With respect to the specific changes to the consultation framework for example, right now there is a requirement for support from the mayor of a city. Some mayors have raised concerns about the appropriateness of these supervised injection sites in their communities.

The bill would also change the consultation period, and this is an important point. When we talk about the development of a supervised injection site, something that is likely going to be in place for quite a long time, it is important to have the proper timeline for consultation upfront. The bill would change the current discretionary 90-day public consultation period to a period that is “not to exceed 90 days”.

In my previous career, I was involved in public opinion research and in that context also consultation. The window given for time is already not that large a window to create opportunities for meaningful debate and discussion that would give people the opportunity to have feedback, to ensure they engage with the information and to suggest and propose alternatives. We have to be concerned that there is no minimum in the proposed new legislation on what the public consultation will look like. There is nothing to suggest the community would have to give its approval either. The implication is that the community would be informed, but it would not necessarily have meaningful opportunities for feedback at all.

Obviously there will be some disagreements about overall drug policy and about the wisdom of these injection sites. Some members of the House favour the decriminalization wholesale of all different kinds of drugs, and I do not doubt with the best intentions, but ultimately that path would be misguided.

Could we at least all agree about the importance of better engaging communities? It seems that we cannot because this legislation involves changes that would just remove the capacity for effective community engagement, and it is unfortunate.

As I said before, many provisions in the legislation are supportable, but with something that would have such a significant impact on communities, it is difficult to suggest that it should be given a pass in spite of the fact that there are certain things in the bill that are worthwhile.

I would like to make a point with respect to the question of whether these supervised injection sites save lives. This has been said by members across the way, and it is an important point.

A lot of the data I have looked at with respect to these sites has looked at the number of overdose interventions and makes the assumption that the overdose interventions therefore necessarily show that there is a net benefit in lives saved. What the arguments do not consider is the possibility of a more permissive environment for drug use in general, the social signal sent by this, the ease of access without the possibility of intervention but also in comparison to other possible alternatives, other policy responses which are motivated by what I have called a more optimistic as opposed to more pessimistic compassion.

I have not heard data from members that show that overall we are talking about lives saved just in that very narrow and specific sense of overdose interventions. There may be other ways to have supports within communities that can be prepared to respond to overdoses that do not involve the kind of legal exceptions that exist in a supervised injection site model.

We need to look not just at this model or nothing. We need to look at alternatives that have as their goal minimizing the use of drugs and helping people to get off drugs completely, providing them with the supports and investments they need do it. That would provide a better alternative.

Certainly, if we cannot agree on that, let us at least agree on the importance of more effective consultation. If we cannot agree on the importance of more effective consultation, let us look at expediting the sections of this bill we can all agree on without getting bogged down in terms of the urgent need to respond or on the sections that do require time and sufficient debate.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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LIB

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

Liberal

Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches—East York, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member suggested that those on our side have been saying that Bill C-37 would save lives. Certainly, I am one of those speakers.

I cited the Supreme Court's unanimous judgment of nine to nothing. I believe it was paragraph 133 that stated, “Insite saves lives. Its benefits have been proven.”

The member now casts doubt on that unanimous conclusion of our Supreme Court and suggests that there might be evidence that permissive and increased usage has occurred because of the safe injection clinics. Perhaps he can point us to that evidence.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis

Mr. Speaker, I know that the member would be shocked and horrified to find that I might, in some cases, disagree with the members of the Supreme Court. However, I was much more humble than that. What I did in my remarks was raise a question. I said that the evidence I have read with respect to these supervised injection sites is specifically on this issue of overdose response, and I raised the question of whether that is sufficient to demonstrate a net benefit to society and to those who are struggling with drug use, especially when we consider the fact that there are other possible responses. That was the question. If the members of the government have evidence, perhaps contained in the Supreme Court judgment or perhaps elsewhere, I invite them to present that evidence.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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NDP

Tracey Ramsey

New Democratic Party

Ms. Tracey Ramsey (Essex, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member speak about interactions he has had with family members and others in the community. He mentioned an organization for concerned parents.

I think it is a fundamental mistake to not go back to the beginning of addiction for people in Canada, A lot of that addiction crosses all socio-economic boundaries. There is no designation of only young people being addicted. The middle class and people from all economic standings in life are addicted for many different reasons, partially because of the over-prescription by doctors of certain opioids that have been deemed safe by our own Health Canada, which we now know is not the case. These prescription medications are becoming a gateway, where people become addicted and then find themselves on the street. I had one such woman in my office who had two young children. Her husband had worked in a very physical type of job, found himself addicted to prescription medication, and is now homeless, living on the street, and addicted to meth and crack cocaine.

I think we need to go back to the root of addiction, which has to include detox and addictions treatment. Unfortunately, under the previous Conservative government, 15% was slashed in the budget for addictions treatment. Does this member now support an increase in the upcoming budget to address the very alarming lack of funding for detox and addictions treatment in Canada?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis

Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the numbers the member raised with respect to the previous government. However, I think I agree with almost everything she said about the way in which drug addiction affects many different people across different kinds of communities, certainly belying many of the stereotypes or what some people might think someone who struggles with drug addiction looks like.

There are many paths that lead people into drug addiction, and there are many paths out. I said quite concretely in my speech that I personally think it is important that we focus our efforts on looking at how we can get people out of addiction and on making those investments in treatment and detox. I think that should be our focus.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Cathy McLeod

Conservative

Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I also want to talk about the addictions detox issue, which is, of course, predominantly a provincial responsibility.

Many times, I hear from people that safe injection sites provide a route to detox and treatment. In my former experience as a nurse, I can remember people who were desperate for support, but often we would have to tell them it was going to take six months before they would have the care they needed. At that point, we had actually lost them. People who had been very motivated, in terms of it being time to turn their lives around, missed those opportunities because of the lack of detox and rehab.

I do not understand, to be honest, when there is such a lack of detox and rehab available, whether it be in communities, remote faraway places, or at Insite, how they can be a pipeline that is as effective as some people indicate.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question and her work and for sharing her experience before coming to this place.

Absolutely, it is horrendous if someone is willing to take those steps necessary but does not have access to a facility that allows them to go through the process of detoxification and addictions treatment. Clearly, even if we think of it in the crudest terms of economic cost, it makes sense to make those upfront investments, given the costs later on. However, that is not the most important consideration at all. It is the effect on people's lives.

This is why our view is that the focus should be on investing in those things that allow people to effectively get on that road to complete recovery and on allowing municipalities and provincial governments to make those investments as well. What is envisioned in this legislation is moving forward with injection sites without necessarily the sign-off of the municipalities, which puts them on the hook for them financially and less able to invest at the local level in alternative programs that may actually be much more effective.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.

Does the member realize that the supervised consumption site model also includes access to detox programs to help people break their addictions? That is part of the model. These facilities offer programs that give people the professional support they need to battle their addictions.

Does my colleague recognize that this is part of what supervised consumption sites offer? Does he recognize that, when these programs are available at supervised consumption sites, and when people can go to these sites rather than be relegated to the streets as they are in all but one of our Canadian communities, it is easier for them to access the professional services that can help them overcome their addictions?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his important question.

It is correct that the institutions have certain programs. However, one thing is clear.

The legal exception is still there that a person can use illegal drugs without the possibility of a legal intervention. I take the view that a legal intervention, recognizing the danger and illegality of these drugs, can be an important step in terms of bringing someone toward that path of recovery. I do not think it is enough to say that people can come here, use illegal drugs, and by the way, if they want to get well again, we have this option as well. As a society, as communities, a fully compassionate and also optimistic response is one that insists on providing the resources, the mechanisms, and every possible encouragement for people to get well again.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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LIB

Julie Dabrusin

Liberal

Ms. Julie Dabrusin (Toronto—Danforth, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg North.

Today I am proud to speak on Bill C-37, which I unreservedly support. This is an essential step in overcoming the opioid crisis that is afflicting our country.

The bill amends the Customs Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, but I will actually be addressing its proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act are important to our government's revision of the Canadian drugs and substances strategy, which restores harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada's drug policy. The return of this evidence-based approach to substances marks a return of our drug policy to a health matter once again.

I want to acknowledge the pain that has been experienced by so many families across our country as a result of the opioid crisis. My hope is that by passing this bill, we will be preventing further deaths from the use of opioids.

This bill gives health professionals the freedom to plan and implement harm reduction strategies to help people with substance abuse issues. It helps to de-stigmatize this disease that is taking lives every day across Canada. It will let people get medical assistance when they need it most. It is important that we all stand and support these changes.

First, I will address the situation in Ontario, specifically in my community.

The chief coroner for Ontario, Dr. Dirk Huyer, reports annually on deaths from opioid toxicity. If we look at the numbers, we see quickly that it is not just fentanyl that is killing people in Ontario. It is also codeine, heroin, hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone, sometimes mixed with alcohol.

The number of deaths is rising. In 2004, there were 246 deaths from opioid and opioid-alcohol toxicity. In 2015, that number had risen to 707 deaths.

It is estimated that one in eight deaths of Ontarians between the ages of 25 and 34 is related to opioid use. Toronto has seen a 77% increase in overdose deaths over the past decade.

The toll in east Toronto, where my community is located, has been high. Research cited by the South Riverdale Community Health Centre shows a disproportionately high number of injection drug users in our community and higher rates of emergency department visits due to opioid or cocaine use than in Toronto overall.

In 2013, a memorial was unveiled at Queen St. and Carlaw Avenue in my riding. The memorial, believed to be the first of its kind in North America, helps us to remember the people in our community who have died from drug overdoses.

It is a space to help families and friends heal. It encourages us to support public education and highlights the impact the war on drugs has had on the lives of people who are with us and those who have gone beyond.

More than 60 people contributed to the creation of the memorial, with the guidance of artist Rocky Dobey. Regarding the memorial, he stated:

But the sculpture is only a small part of this project; many more ideas have been generated, including a print exhibit, an annual memorial at the sculpture, and the simple storytelling of memories at these meetings; hopefully the project will continue to draw this community together.

At the time that it was unveiled, there were 79 names. By this summer we had 130 names, and more are being added. The stories and memories that are embodied in the sculpture should recall to all of us that work remains to be done to support our neighbours in this struggle.

This past summer, the sculpture was the site of a memorial for a young community peer and street outreach worker who specialized in harm reduction, Brooklyn McNeil. She was a strong advocate for safe consumption sites in Toronto.

She appeared before the Toronto Board of Health and spoke very eloquently in favour of harm reduction. I listened to her deputation last night, and her presentation hits hard. She spoke of how accidental overdoses could be prevented by safe injection sites, and she recounted her own overdose experiences.

She closed her statement saying that “respect for all members of the community is so important, especially not looking at addicts as invaders but as part of the community.” Unfortunately, she died of a drug overdose in June at the age of 22. She died before the Toronto Board of Health voted to approve three safe consumption sites in Toronto.

I do feel that Brooklyn McNeil's view of community is echoed, however, in the deputation made by the chair of the Leslieville BIA, Andrew Sherbin, who spoke at Toronto City Hall in favour of a safe consumption site in my community at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. He stated, “We will always be a neighbourhood that welcomes people, not turns them away.”

Both of their statements strike to the very point of harm reduction, that we do not help people by turning them away. As we face a growing opioid crisis we need to look directly at this problem, we need to help people get the health care they need.

The bill we are discussing today helps communities to apply for exemptions to allow for the creation of safe consumption sites. It puts into place five benchmarks to be met for a safe consumption site to be approved. The benchmarks are:

One, demonstration of the need for such a site to exist; two, demonstration of appropriate consultation of the community; three, presentation of evidence on whether the site will impact crime in the community; four, ensuring regulatory systems are in place; and, five, site proponents will need to prove that appropriate resources are in place.

By putting these benchmarks into place, the bill returns our law to the state it was in after the Supreme Court of Canada's 2011 decision that allowed lnsite to operate in British Columbia, without the overbearing, harmful, and unnecessary regulatory framework set up by the former Conservative government.

An organization in my community, as I have mentioned, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, has applied to expand the harm reduction services they already provide. The centre is one of three that was approved by the Toronto Board of Health, and it has been operating a harm reduction needle exchange since 1998. That is about 20 years. It is one of the busiest harm reduction needle exchange programs in Toronto, and in 2015 served over 3,000 people who use drugs.

The South Riverdale Community Health Centre states in their background document relating to their application for a supervised injection site that international and Canadian research shows that such sites have benefits for individuals using the services and the community, including reducing the number of drug overdoses and deaths, reducing risk factors leading to infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, increasing the use of detox and drug treatment services, connecting people with other health and social services, and reducing the amount of publicly discarded needles.

The centre’s study of clients who seek help relating to injection drugs showed that around 30% of the clients injected in public. Ensuring needles are not discarded in public is an important health goal, and is something that this bill helps us achieve.

Members of my community signed a petition in support of a safe consumption site, and the wording of the petition stated as follows:

Leslieville is a progressive, welcoming and inclusive community. As individuals who live and work in the community, we support the establishment of a small-scale safe injection service at the South Riverdale Community Health Center (SRCHC). With a 41% increase in fatal overdoses over a 10 year period in Toronto and the existence of discarded needles in the neighbourhood, this service will not only prevent unnecessary deaths but keep the community safer. South Riverdale CHC has been operating a robust and successful Harm Reduction program for almost 20 years and this small but important addition will protect both individuals who already use the program and the community at large.

I would like to conclude with the comments that one of my constituents made at the Toronto Board of Health. Her name is Margaret Harvey, and she said, “As a community, we owe it to ourselves and to each other to make harm reduction a priority, to give the vulnerable a chance to get the help they need and to make our streets, parks, and other public spaces safer for everyone”.

So too, as a country, do we owe it to the vulnerable to make sure that they do not face barriers to access the health care that they need to keep them safe.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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CPC

Cathy McLeod

Conservative

Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked about the importance of this legislation, and I will agree with her that there are many important measures in it. There is one area of course that we do have concerns about. More important, and I have to say this again, it was back in April 2016 when B.C. declared a state of emergency. It is now February and the Liberals have finally gotten around to putting some legislation for consideration.

I have to note that yesterday we were busy talking about Stats Canada. Can I ask the member this: How does she feel both about her colleague, the member for Vancouver Centre, who says that the government is moving too slowly and if it were happening in Ontario it would be moving faster; and second, is dealing with the Statistics Act more important than this bill, in her opinion?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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LIB

Julie Dabrusin

Liberal

Ms. Julie Dabrusin

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that my colleague is pointing out the importance of this issue and the fact that we all see that we need to urgently address the opioid crisis. There is no question about it; that is something that we need to respond to. That is why I am so happy that we are having this debate in this place today.

I want to point out, though, that we as a government have been taking action on this issue already. We made the overdose antidote naloxone more widely available in Canada. In fact, one of the points that was brought up at the deputation that I mentioned at the board of health was that the use of naloxone had saved this woman's life once in the past. Also, we granted section 56 exemptions for the Dr. Peter Centre and extended the exemption for Insite for an additional four years.

We are taking steps, and we are now debating this legislation right here. This is what we need to do to make it happen.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
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NDP

Tracey Ramsey

New Democratic Party

Ms. Tracey Ramsey (Essex, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across for sharing her experience in her community around this crisis. I have shared some of the experiences in my own riding of Essex today in this House, and this is something that we need to get ahead of. Unfortunately, this is coming at a time when it is almost too late because of the number of deaths that we have seen. We need to get ahead of this now and we need to move faster than we are moving on this issue.

We in the NDP welcome the changes that are being proposed here and of course will support them, but we need to do more. In my riding, there is no access to any type of treatment facility. People have to travel from southwestern Ontario up to the Toronto region in order to get treatment, and they are waiting eight days to detox.

My question for the member is around the medical experts who have been very clear that there is an alarming lack of access to publicly funded detox and addiction treatments in Canada. I want to ask the member if budget 2017 contain significant new funding for addictions treatment.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink
LIB

Julie Dabrusin

Liberal

Ms. Julie Dabrusin

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I was very happy to see when we are talking about the different types of actions that are required is we need to gather the experts together and get the evidence that we need to respond to this issue. This bill is one step that brings us closer to getting to those solutions. The Minister of Health also had a summit bringing together experts to discuss opioids and how we should be addressing this crisis. That is exactly what we need to get the proper answers to where we are going. We need to get evidence put together. We had that summit. That was a great place. Now we have this legislation, and we will keep moving forward to get this done.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink

January 31, 2017