Federal NDP critic for mental health and addictions, Gord Johns, made the following statement:
“The data released from the B.C. coroner's office is absolutely staggering and heartbreaking. It has never been more clear that the federal Liberal’s failure to act on the toxic overdose crisis which is costing thousands of lives, leaving families here in B.C. and across Canada without their loved ones. 2021 was the deadliest year of the toxic drug overdose crisis in B.C. with 2,224 deaths.
The Liberals need to urgently address this emergency, so no more lives are needlessly lost. They can't continue to ignore calls from public health experts urging them to take a different approach. We're hopeful the Liberals will finally hear reason and support the bill that I have put forward to decriminalize the personal possession of drugs and take meaningful steps to address the toxic supply of street drugs that are killing Canadians by the thousands.
Despite the undeniably dire situation, the Liberal government hasn't shown the political will to take action. There was no mention of this devastating crisis in the Speech from the Throne, nothing in the mandate letter to the federal Minister of Health and there was only a buried mention of addressing the toxic drug supply of opioids in the federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions' mandate letter.
Last year, the cities of Vancouver and Toronto and the province of B.C. applied to the federal government for an exemption for the decriminalization of drugs for personal use, a step that was recommended by the Liberal government’s own Expert Task Force on substance use and supported by health experts, police chiefs and frontline workers.
New Democrats are listening to the experts, advocates and Canadians affected. New Democrats will continue to prioritize an urgent response to the toxic drug overdose crisis.”