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View Darren Fisher Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, on a personal note, I want to thank the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. He gets this. He truly cares, and I want to thank him, not only for that passion and compassion, but also for the fact that he truly cares.
We are deeply concerned about Canada's opioid overdose crisis. New data released in December show that from January 2016 to June 2019, 13,913 people across this country have died as the result of opioid overdoses. While this number is staggering, we must not lose sight of the fact that this crisis impacts many more people than are reflected in the statistics. Each death affects families, friends, communities and loved ones, creating a loss felt by tens of thousands of people. This crisis is impacting all Canadians and is a national public health crisis of the highest priority.
This tragedy involves many factors, however, we know that the vast majority of overdose deaths are caused by illegally produced, highly toxic synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil. The introduction of these substances into Canada's illegal drug market corresponds with the steep rise in overdose deaths. Therefore, an important element in our response to the crisis must be to address the smuggling of these toxic opioids into Canada.
We have responded by enacting new legislation, fast-tracking regulatory action, making investments and working collaboratively with other countries to prevent the smuggling of illicit drugs from countries like China. Prior to amendments to the Customs Act under Bill C-37, CBSA officers did not have the authority to inspect international packages weighing 30 grams or less without consent from the sender or addressee. For context, one 30-gram package can contain enough fentanyl to kill 15,000 people. Today, officers now have the authority to open any incoming package when they have reasonable grounds. We have also put in place scheduling amendments to restrict importation of chemicals used to produce fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances illegally. Additionally, our government has provided up to an additional $76.2 million to address the opioid crisis and problematic substance use, bringing the total recent investment to more than $100 million, including $30.5 million from budget 2019.
Because illegal drug trafficking knows no borders, international co-operation is also essential. Canada is working closely with international partners to prevent fentanyl and carfentanil from entering our country. Nowhere is our partnership stronger than with the United States. In fact, last June, the Prime Minister and President Trump reconfirmed our shared desire to address the overdose crisis ravaging Canada and the United States by committing to a joint action plan. Both countries are also working with the Chinese government to address the issue of illicitly produced fentanyl. The Government of Canada welcomed China's recent efforts to disrupt the illegal trafficking of fentanyl, as well as its addition of fentanyl-related substances to its supplementary list of controlled narcotics.
Enforcement to reduce the illegal drug supply is, however, just one component of our government's approach. If we are to turn the tide on this tragedy, we must commit to saving lives and supporting people who use drugs to improve their health and well-being. That is why our government restored harm reduction as a pillar of the Canadian drugs and substances strategy, approved more than 40 supervised consumption sites across the country, made naloxone available without a prescription and provided $150 million through the emergency treatment fund to provinces and territories to improve access to evidence-based substances and treatment services. A further $106.7 million was provided in budget 2019, which includes funding for pilot projects focused on pharmaceutical alternatives to the illegal drug market.
Our government recognizes—
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