Government Should Treat Substance Abuse as a Health Issue

New Democrats have been calling for the declaration of a national public health emergency for over two years. It’s time for the Liberal government to act.

On Monday Dec 10th, as the opioid crisis claims more and more lives every day, the NDP called on the Liberal government for a federal declaration of a national public health emergency. New Democrats urged Trudeau’s government to commit significant new dollars and resources to combat what is inarguably a deepening, serious crisis that is affecting Saskatoon and every region of the country.

“Too many families are tragically losing parents, siblings, and children to drug addiction,” said NDP MP Sheri Benson (Saskatoon West). “No community has been untouched by highly addictive and dangerous drugs. We need to make sure our communities have the supports and resources necessary to help individuals and families dealing with this illness.”

The drug supply in Canada has become so toxic that the Liberal government cannot hope to address the escalating death toll without providing access to a safe, medically regulated drug supply. A declaration of a public health emergency would also mean that health professionals currently working at unsanctioned overdose prevention sites throughout this country would no longer be forced to put their licences and personal liberty on the line to save lives.

“It’s time to treat substance use and addiction as a health issue, not a criminal justice one,” added Benson. “New Democrats have been calling for the declaration of a national public health emergency for over two years. It’s time for the Liberal government to act.”