House of Commons – January 31, 2017

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with member for Brampton East.
The emergence of fentanyl and its analogues, an opioid at least 100 times more potent than morphine, has given rise to a public health crisis in Canada that requires urgent action.
Bill C-37 proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in a number of ways to address this crisis. In terms of harm reduction, it proposes to simplify the process both of applying for a supervised consumption site and for the exemptions that would allow certain activities to take place at a supervised site. I am pleased to see an evidence-based health-centric focus on harm reduction return to our health policy and legislation.
With regard to law enforcement and border security, amongst many changes, it prohibits the importation of designated devices, unless the device is registered with the Minister of Health. This specifically prohibits unregistered importation of pill presses and encapsulators. It expands the offence of possession, production, sale, or importation of anything, knowing that it will be used to produce or traffic in methamphetamines.
The bill authorizes the minister to temporarily add to a schedule substances that the minister has reasonable grounds to believe poses a significant risk to public health and safety. It modernizes inspection powers allowing border officers to open mail weighing 30 grams or less in order to stop drugs like fentanyl from entering Canada illegally through the mail system.
I would like to add my support for this bill and the proposed amendments to the CDSA . I would frame my support with particular reference to the recommendations from the December 2016 report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, entitled “Report and recommendations on the opioid crisis in Canada”.
I am pleased to be a member of this standing committee. My following remarks draw heavily on this report and the excellent summation of the witnesses’ testimony and the committee’s deliberations as provided by the committee’s members and supporting staff. The members of the standing committee agreed to undertake an emergency study of the opioid crisis in Canada. During the course of its study, the committee held five meetings, where it heard from a range of stakeholders, including federal and provincial government representatives, health care professionals, addiction experts, emergency frontline responders, representatives of first nations communities, and individuals with lived experience in substance abuse and addiction.
These witnesses outlined specific ways to address this opioid crisis and implored the committee to make recommendations that would lead to concrete action. I cannot emphasize enough the powerful, emotional, and compelling testimony that we heard from all witnesses urging the government to take action on this crisis.

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