by Rob Morrison MP Kootenay Columbia on Friday May 12 2023
Decriminalizing hard drugs is not a solution.
On May 30th last year, the federal government announced it would grant the BC government’s request for an exemption from the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. What followed was less enforcement, more opioids (heroin, morphine, and fentanyl), crack, meth and cocaine on our streets resulting in higher death and overdose rates.
How does more supply of toxic drugs purchased with tax-payer dollars equate to safer streets and communities?
In 2021 the NDP government in BC announced $22.6 million in funding to “lay the foundation” that would see health authorities become some of the largest dealers of hard drugs in Canada.
Taxpayers should not be paying for hard drugs and city Councils should not be required to install controlled injection sites to unlock government funding for needed shelter for the homeless. Injection sites in Cranbrook and Nelson have failed and they aren’t working in Vancouver where the province is now injecting a million dollars a day into the problem.
And yet Nelson is being asked to facilitate the expansion of the program to include a safe inhalation site on Vernon Street. This is right across from a youth gymnastics club, girl guide club, a scout’s club, and a movie theatre.
The current situation in Nelson has already negatively impacted the lives of the 230 individuals who live at the senior centre.
Senior citizens in their 70s, 80s and 90s are being harassed. They are being ignored by the government; forced to deal with human feces on their sidewalks, individuals urinating on their doors and gun crime causing broken centre windows. In the face of that sobering reality decisions are being made right now by the BC government that will place toxic drugs – poison – right in the path of the most vulnerable of Nelson’s population – our seniors and young people.
Are we okay with an approach that prioritizes illegal and harmful behaviour over the right of our community’s youth and senior citizens to live in peace?
The government’s approach to the opioid crisis isn’t working and there is no evidence-based success in Nelson or Cranbrook. In fact, we are seeing mounting problems and residents are reporting the situation is out of control. What is needed is prevention, enforcement, treatment, and education.
We do see evidence of this approach working in Alberta, where a recovery-oriented care model is the reason that fatal drug overdoses have decreased by 50% in just one year.
We owe it to our communities and especially to the most vulnerable – our youth and seniors – to get this right. Addiction is a public health issue and Canada’s drug laws must target individuals who prey on addiction. Those struggling deserve compassion with access to culturally appropriate treatment and a path to recovery.
Federally, Conservatives are focused on presenting common-sense solutions to address the addictions crisis. We will not give up on Canadians and will turn hurt into hope. I will continue to fight for safer streets and a path to life and recovery for all who struggle with addiction.
As a community, let’s work together to make this right. E-mail your elected officials and demand a safer community.
We are overdue for a new approach.
Rob Morrison is the Conservative Party MP for the Kootenay-Columbia riding