Address the Opioid Crisis through a Public Health Approach

Moved by National Caucus


  • almost 3,000 Canadians died from opioid-related causes in 2016, and it is estimated that the number will surpass 3,000 in 2017;
  • our Liberal government has restored harm reduction as a key pillar of Canada’s drug strategy, saved lives by passing Bill C-37 and facilitating the approval of more supervised consumption sites, and regulated cannabis as part of our commitment to evidence-based decision-making;
  • in 2001, Portugal took two broad measures to combat the harms associated with drug abuse: first, Portuguese policymakers significantly expanded treatment and harm reduction services; and second, they eliminated criminal penalties for low-level possession and consumption of all illicit drugs and reclassified these activities as administrative violations;
  • since 2001, a person found in possession of personal-use amounts of any drug in Portugal is no longer arrested, but ordered to appear before a dissuasion commission comprised of representatives from law, medicine, and social work, which can refer a person to a voluntary treatment program, or impose administrative sanctions;
  • since 2001, in Portugal, the number of deaths from drug overdose has dropped significantly, adolescent and problematic drug use has decreased, the number of people in drug treatment has increased, the number of people arrested and sent to criminal courts has declined by 60%, and the per capital social cost of drug misuse has decreased by 18%.

BE IT RESOLVED the Government of Canada should treat drug abuse as a health issue, expand treatment and harm reduction services and re-classify low-level drug possession and consumption as administrative violations.

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