Families across Canada have experienced the devastating impacts of the toxic drug overdose crisis.

In the last six years, over 30,000 Canadians have died as a result of the toxic drug supply. According to experts the drug supply is becoming even more contaminated, putting more lives at risk. This is a public health emergency and must be treated as such.

We must listen to the experts who recommend decriminalizing personal possession across Canada; allowing record expungement for past convictions; and developing a strategy to address root causes of problematic substance use while filling gaps in education and prevention as well as access to safer supply, harm reduction, treatment and recovery services.

For as long as the overdose deaths continue so will my fight for a comprehensive emergency response to turn the tide on this crisis.


IN THE NEWS- NDP MP Gord Johns calls for audit of government’s response to toxic drug crisis

OTTAWA – Yesterday, the Public Health Agency of Canada published updated data and modelling projections demonstrating the devastating toll the toxic drug crisis continues to have on families and communities across the country.

Between January 2016 and June 2022, 32,632 Canadians have died due to drug poisoning. The data shows that another 4,100 people may lose their lives in the first half of 2023 if urgent action isn’t taken.

“The Liberal government knows it needs to do more to turn the tide on this tragic crisis but continues to drag its feet because of stigma,” said MP Gord Johns, the NDP’s Critic for Mental Health and Harm Reduction. “Just like in June, this devastating new data has been released as Parliament adjourns because the government doesn’t want to answer for its ineffective response that has cost lives.”

IN THE NEWS – The Star - Ottawa working to regulate drug supply in ‘super significant’ move as deaths remain high

Gord Johns, the NDP mental health and harm reduction critic who proposed the decriminalization bill, said in a statement that Bennett’s words were “encouraging,” but needed to be accompanied by “real, rapid action in order to stop the harms the toxic drug supply is causing on a daily basis.

“New Democrats will keep pushing the Liberals to adopt a comprehensive emergency response to turn the tide on this public health crisis,” he said.

IN THE NEWS – RED DEER ADVOCATE - Ottawa yet to create system to source safe supply to reduce overdoses

Referencing the government's work to procure COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic, Johns asked why it is not doing the same for safe supply.

"It's because it lacks political will, it's not their priority, and they lack courage," he said.

Bennett's office did not directly respond to a question about whether she and Tassi have been working together to procure a safe supply of opioids.

"The provision of contracts for a safer supply of opioids is primarily a provincial and territorial responsibility," Bennett's office said in a recent statement.

Health Canada is currently supporting 17 safer supply projects in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, for a total investment of more than $64 million, her office said.

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Gord Johns, a New Democratic MP from Vancouver Island, was behind a bill in Ottawa aiming to allow drugs for personal use right across Canada.

 The Liberal government granted the exemption to B.C. just before the house was due to vote on Johns bill, ultimately rejecting it. Johns called the move "cynical" and slammed Ottawa for doing little else to try to save lives nationwide: "Twenty-seven thousand people have died as a result of toxic overdose, they haven't tabled any comprehensive legislation to respond to this crisis."

Johns said his bill drew on suggestions from the government's Expert Task Force on Substance Use

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The hope Bill 217 and the federal Bill C-216 would pass was shared by the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network, said coordinator Solange Machado.

Bill C-216, a private member's bill tabled by NDP mental health and harm reduction critic Gord Johns, who is MP for Courtenay-Alberni in B.C., as meant decriminalize simple possession, provide a pathway for people convicted of simple possession and create a national policy to create a safer supply of drugs.

IN THE NEWS – CP24 - Canada announces decriminalization plan for drug users in B.C.

However, Bennett said she "will not be voting" today for a private member's bill introduced by New Democrat MP Gord Johns to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drags across the country. She said the bill lacks "guardrails" around implementation. "It has been an important bill, but I think that starting with British Columbia is a prudent way to go," Bennett said.

Johns, who represents a riding on Vancouver Island, stood in the House of Commons Tuesday and called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end an "irresponsible" patchwork approach involving the national overdose crisis.

Over 27,000 people across the country died from opioid-related overdoses between 2016 and September 2021.

'There are thousands of families burying their loved ones outside of B.C. Provincial and local governments shouldn't have to fill the void of federal leadership. Lives are at stake," Johns said, asking if the government would support his bill.

IN THE NEWS – ‘What are they afraid of?’ Liberals urged to support bill to decriminalize drugs

“They’re going to have blood on their hands on Wednesday when they vote against this bill,” said NDP MP Gord Johns, who tabled the private member’s bill.

“How can any politician in this country not vote to send this bill to committee to listen to the experts? What are they afraid of? They’re afraid of hearing the truth from the experts?”

Experts, advocates and people who use drugs have long called for decriminalization as one necessary tool — along with a safe drug supply and treatment services — to tackle the opioid epidemic, in order to erase stigma and ensure that people aren’t using drugs alone or fear seeking help

IN THE NEWS – Vancouver Island Free Daily – No easy solution to opioid crisis fallout in Alberni Valley

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns said business owners are unfortunately “on the doorstep” of a social system collapse, driven by a mental health crisis, a toxic drug supply and “chronic” underfunding for housing. He spoke to the need for zero-barrier housing in Port Alberni, as well as the need for more hours at the OPS.

“Nobody’s died at the overdose prevention site,” he said. “But [the site] closes. People don’t use drugs by a clock. Business owners shouldn’t be dealing with this.”

Gord meets with organizations helping Victorians devasted by the drug poisoning crisis

VICTORIA – Today, NDP Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, Gord Johns, is visiting MP Laurel Collins riding of Victoria to meet with local organizations supporting people who use drugs or are addicted to drugs. Johns is touring the country to raise support for his private member’s bill which would decriminalize personal possession of illicit drugs, expunge criminal convictions for personal possession of drugs, and establish a national strategy for substance use among other things.

“Service providers are on the front lines doing the important work to support their community. They are doing everything they can to keep people safe in the middle of a crisis which has cost thousands of lives,” said Johns. “Like many other cities across the country, Victoria has been deeply affected by this toxic illicit drug supply crisis which has only gotten worse in recent years. It’s about time this Liberal government moved past their outdated ideology, which is costing lives, and listened to the experts. We can’t let any more families deal with this unnecessary pain."

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