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.


NDP bill would help address the toxic drug overdose crisis that continues to devastate communities on Vancouver Island

NANAIMO – Illicit drug toxicity is now the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C., according to a report from a panel of experts released this week. Today, NDP Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, Gord Johns, and NDP MP Lisa Marie Barron (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) toured Nanaimo to see the effects of this crisis first hand. Johns recently tabled a bill which would decriminalize drug possession for personal use and expand access to crucial harm reduction, treatment and recovery services to help address the growing crisis.  

“Like many communities in B.C. and across the country, Nanaimo has been struggling with the toxic drug overdose crisis which has cost many families their loved ones. No one should have to experience this kind of suffering,” said Johns. “The Liberals continue to ignore the advice of experts on how to deal with this crisis. I am hopeful they, and all Parliamentarians, will support my bill which will save lives here in Nanaimo and across Canada. 

MPS debate NDP initiative to help address the overdose crisis

OTTAWA – Today, NDP MP Gord Johns’ bill to decriminalize drug possession for personal use and expand access to crucial harm reduction, treatment and recovery services will be debated in the House of Commons. In British Columbia alone, 2,224 people died from toxic drugs last year, a 26 per cent increase from the year before, making last year the deadliest in the province’s overdose crisis. In the past six years, nearly 25,000 Canadians have died from the crisis, with the number of deaths increasing every year since the Liberals were elected. Johns and his NDP colleagues are urging all Members of Parliament to support this initiative to help ensure more families across Canada don't lose a loved one to this crisis.

“Canada is dealing with a second health pandemic which is needlessly killing thousands of people. The overdose crisis will not end on its own. It’s clear we need to take a new approach or else thousands more will die,” said Johns. “My bill follows the advice of the government’s own expert task force which recommended decriminalization, something that has been called for by public health authorities, police chiefs and major cities. It’s time the Liberal government listened to the experts and treated this like the health crisis it is.”

Gord states the Liberal government is failing to address the opioid crisis and it's costing Canadians their lives

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.” 

Last night, Gord Johns asked the Minister for Mental Health and Addictions about her government's plans to address this crisis. You can watch the recordings here:
Video 1
Video 2


IN THE NEWS- The opioid crisis is killing our loved ones: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and MP Gord Johns introduced the NDP's first initiative

OTTAWA – Today, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, Gord Johns, introduced the NDP's first initiative in the new parliamentary session – a private member's bill that would help thousands of families dealing with loved ones who use or are addicted to drugs. If passed, among other things the NDP’s bill would decriminalize drug possession for personal use and expand access to crucial harm reduction, treatment and recovery services.

“Justin Trudeau has allowed the stigma around drug use to persist instead of taking real action to save lives. The longer the Liberals drag their feet the more lives that will be lost,” said Johns. “We need to decriminalize immediately and save lives by providing access to a regulated safer supply of drugs for users. Besides these necessary steps, this bill would also require the government to remove barriers to employment, housing and travel for thousands of Canadians by expunging their criminal records for simple possession of drugs. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I am hopeful that parliamentarians from all parties will support our bill so we can get people the help they need.”

NDP MP Gord Johns introduces a bill to tackle the overdose crisis and save lives

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.”

IN THE NEWS- Gord asks when government will finally take action on overdose deaths

OTTAWA — Member of Parliament Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni) rose in the House of Commons today to ask the Prime Minister when he will finally take action to prevent overdose deaths in Canada. 
“The Public Health Agency of Canada reported an 88% increase in opioid related deaths last year,” MP Johns said, “The Prime Minister has repeatedly said we need to listen to public health officials to get through the pandemic but when it comes to the overdose crisis, he is ignoring those same health officials.”

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