OTTAWA – Over 20,000 Canadians have died of overdoses in the last five years and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid overdose epidemic has gotten even worse. Yesterday, the NDP’s critic for mental health and addictions, Gord Johns, introduced a private member’s bill to tackle this emergency by decriminalizing personal possession and taking a health-based approach to substance use.
“While Canadians have been living through the COVID-19 pandemic, another pandemic has also been impacting our communities. Despite what they say, the Liberals have continuously ignored calls from health experts, police chiefs and big Canadian cities to treat the opioid crisis like a health crisis,” said Johns. “The bill I put forward will make sure those suffering with substance abuse issues are not treated like criminals. It will make it easier for people to get the help they need without the stigma and unsafe supply those struggling with addiction have always faced.”
Victoria-BC: Changes to federal funding distribution for language revitalization programs has raised concern for the survival of programming at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC).
The VNFC offers language classes to meet the needs of its diverse Indigenous community, including Nuučaan̓uɫ, Nihiyaw (Cree - Y dialect and TH dialect), Nedut’en Carrier, Dene, Dakota, and Anishinaabe.
Johns praised Nuu-chah-nulth elders, educators and learners, who he said are making tremendous progress towards revitalizing their Indigenous language, in spite of the uncertainty of federal funding from one year to the next.
“Now their language program funding may be cut by up to 57 per cent because of a newly proposed federal heritage funding formula. The formula fails to recognize that British Columbia has the highest concentration of Indigenous language and cultural diversity of any province or territory in the country, with 35 distinct languages and more than 90 dialects,” said Johns in his statement.