McLEOD – Federal government too slow in reacting to opioid crisis

House of Commons. (

House of Commons. (

Excerpts from remarks by Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017 on Bill C37, The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

ALL OF US in the House agree that we are facing a very real crisis. The casual or addictive use of drugs is now including a much higher risk of death. Indeed, many people have compared it to playing Russian roulette with what is out on the streets and what is being mixed into drugs. It is truly a risk for everyone.

mcleodhedBill C-37 represents a partial response to the crisis. There are many measures in the bill that are important and supportable, but there are some areas which obviously we still have some concerns about. Even with the supportable measures, I think we need to talk a bit about the time it took to get us to this point.

It was 10 months ago today, April 14, when British Columbia’s provincial health officer declared a state of emergency in relation to the rising death rate being seen every day. It was related to fentanyl being laced into drugs. Back in 2012, it was in about 5% of drugs and it was reaching up to 60% in 2016. It was recognized that we had a crisis and B.C. declared a state of emergency. That was 10 months ago.

Meanwhile, we know that carfentanil has been confirmed on the streets as well. It is very important that we have a public awareness campaign, because many parents, children, youth, and young adults have no idea what is out there on the street. … Carfentanil is for use on large animals like elephants. People can actually order it by mail from China, and it can be delivered.

In the fall of last year, a man in Calgary was arrested, and I believe he had a kilogram of carfentanil, which had the potential to kill 50 million people….

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to note that there has been approval given to new injection sites under the existing process. In Kamloops we have a mayor and council who have endorsed 100% moving forward with a safe injection site. 
We had 26 criteria which created some rigour around the process, and because of that rigour, we have a community like Kamloops where the downtown business association has been engaged. Its members have made suggestions in terms of locations. Council is voting 100% unanimously to support it because there was rigour around the process in moving forward.

What the government is suggesting and what the bill does is it guts all the rigour of the process. I think we will be heading down a very bad path in terms of having that support and that good advice from communities on how to do things and where to do things….

My bigger point is there are measures. When there is a strike and it is determined we need to have back-to-work legislation, it happens immediately. We knew carfentanil was coming in from China. We knew it was coming in in small packages. It has taken 10 months to get a piece of legislation on the table that gives some additional powers to our border guards to seize and intercept packages containing something that has the capability of killing thousands….

Mr. Speaker, I talked about the lack of data, What was very surprising was that when I looked at the data in Kamloops, we had 40 deaths in the last year. Those are mothers, daughters, and sons. It is horrific. Was that through ingestion or related to addiction? How does it break down? We really need to target our support and resources, and that information is not there.

Our ability to understand the problem in all its complexity is not actually helped by the data that is currently available. Regardless of the reason, we need to have strategies for the different issues we are dealing with, and we simply do not have that….




About Mel Rothenburger (7457 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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