IN THE NEWS- NDP and Liberal MPs getting first-hand look at Portugal's drug decriminalization

IN THE NEWS- While many MPs spend their summer break visiting constituents or attending meetings with local stakeholders, New Democrat Gord Johns and Liberal Brendan Hanley travelled to Portugal this week to see what lessons Canada can learn from the former heroin overdose capital of Europe following its decision to decriminalize all drug use more than two decades ago. 

Johns (Courtenay–Alberni, B.C.), his party’s mental health and harm reduction critic, said in a July 6 interview he hopes to learn from the country’s policymakers, as well as frontline health-care and harm-reduction service providers “on what they did right and the challenges they faced in implementation.” 

“I also want to get their thoughts on evaluating our approach in Canada, because getting an outside perspective is also critical,” Johns said. “My goal is to bring back some some good suggestions for a good approach that Canada can take, and then apply pressure on the government to do just that.”

NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction critic visits Portugal to find solutions for the Toxic Drug Crisis

Ottawa- On Tuesday night, NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction critic Gord Johns will head to Portugal, where he will meet with government officials, and harm reduction groups including Canada’s Ambassador to Portugal, Elise Racicot, and João Goulão who spearheaded Portugal’s safe supply and decriminalization policy.

“The toxic drug crisis is devastating. Each year we’re seeing more deaths from toxic drug poisonings than from the year before. Clearly, the approach Canada’s been using isn’t enough,” said Johns. “The government should be learning from others who’ve seemed to handle substance use, and prevention better than Canada has. Like, Portugal, which was once one of Europe’s worst countries for substance use. Yet they’ve seen a sharp decline in overdoses, and substance use, because they had the political will to make necessary investments and policy changes.”

IN THE NEWS – MP Gord Johns praises additional funding for Tofino Wastewater Treatment Plant

June 26, 2023

“The announcement of this important joint investment is a tribute to the responsible stewardship and sound planning of the leaders and staff of District of Tofino and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation; and the willingness of federal and provincial governments to share their vision for a pristine environment. The beneficiaries of this historic announcement are all those species that rely on healthy marine ecosystems in Clayoquot Sound. Kleco Kleco to all those who have made this possible.” - MP Gord Johns.

IN THE NEWS- MP Gord Johns visits tiny home village completion in Port Alberni

Canada’s minister of mental health and addictions paid a visit to Port Alberni this week to tour a tiny home village that is expected to open at the end of the month.

Carolyn Bennett, MP for Toronto-St. Paul’s, was invited by Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns to tour Walyaqil Tiny Home Village in Port Alberni. Johns says it’s unusual for his riding to get a visit from a federal minister, but he felt that it was appropriate since Port Alberni is “ground zero” of British Columbia’s toxic drug crisis.

Johns said he invited the minister specifically to come to Port Alberni because its toxic drug deaths are more than double the provincial average. Between the ages of 19 and 45, the number of toxic drug deaths is almost five times the provincial average, said Johns.

“It’s critical that the minister come here and meet with people on the front line, so that she can fully get an idea of what we need,” said Johns. “She can see models and examples that we can replicate across the country to address this crisis, but also to accelerate the needs here in Port Alberni and in our communities.

IN THE NEWS- NDP calls to increase volunteer and firefighter search and rescue tax credit as wildfire efforts further stress volunteer shortage

Ottawa- On Wednesday, NDP MP Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni) joined by Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) Board Member Paul Boisonneault, on behalf of CAFC President Ken McMullen, Brian Starkell from Volunteer Firefighters of Canada and Dale Kirsch, President of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, called on the Liberals to increase the volunteer firefighter and search and rescue tax credit from $3,000 to $10,000.

The hundreds of fires raging across Canada have put intense strain on volunteer firefighters – who make up more than 70 per cent of Canada’s firefighting efforts.

“Wildfires have been burning through communities all over Canada and destroying land like we’ve never seen before. It’s never been clearer that we need to have the strongest fire force and search and rescue team possible,” said Johns. “But the reality is, that the volunteers we rely on are exhausted. They’re working full-time jobs outside of fighting fires, taking on more paid work to keep up with rising costs, and they just can’t keep volunteering on the side.”

MP Gord Johns and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh urges elected officials to act on toxic drug crisis

OTTAWA- On Thursday, May 31st, 2023, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh stood with NDP MP Gord Johns and representatives from Moms Stop the Harm to urge the Liberal government to deal with the toxic drug public health crisis. 

"Nobody should have to wait for treatment for substance use disorder when they are ready to take the road to recovery" said Johns. 

Singh and Johns spoke to media on the one-year anniversary of the defeat of Johns' private member's bill. This bill called for a strategy that included decriminalization of simple possession, harm reduction measures including safe injection sites and pharmaceutical grade substances for users, the expansion of recovery programs including just-in-time, no-fee residential treatment programs and an expanded public education and health promotion program.  

NDP MP Gord Johns Statement on Mental Health Week

NDP Mental Health and Harm Reduction Critic Gord Johns made the following statement: 

"Everyone, at some point in their lives, will feel the impacts of mental health issues- whether it's a loved one who is suffering, a friend, a colleague, or even ourselves. And when this happens, it can be scary and cause tremendous worry. 

That's why Canadians want to know that when their loved ones are struggling, or they themselves are having a hard time, good care and support will be readily available. 

But under the current Liberal government, getting the help you need can take months. And once you can finally access support, the costs are very high. People are already struggling with the high cost of living, and having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for help with your mental health just causes more stress for Canadians in crisis. 

Action is needed urgently. 

Every day in Canada, more than 200 people attempt to take their own life and about 20 people die from toxic substances overdoses. This is a public health emergency that government needs to confront to save lives. 

New Democrats are committed to this fight, that's why we're pushing to make sure the Liberals actually deliver on a Canada Mental Health Transfer, and why we've called for the GST to be removed from all therapy services. 

This week, we promise not to give up this fight. Together, we can make a difference by supporting physical and mental wellness and reducing the stigma, so that no one has to suffer in silence". 

 

IN THE NEWS- MP Gord Johns shows support for Mothers' rally in Parksville calling for drug policy changes to stop opioid crisis

It was an emotional day for the mothers who attended the national Day of Action in Parksville to urge the federal government to change its drug policy to prevent opioid-related overdose deaths. 

MP Gord Johns attended the event and expressed his sympathy to the mothers who lost their children to drug toxicity. He told the crowd there's no simple answer or solution to the problem. 

"We need to listen to the experts," said Johns. "It should be evidence-based, science-based and we need an expert task force on such issues. That should be the guiding light in how we respond". 

IN THE NEWS - AVN - Federal budget lacking, says Courtenay-Alberni MP

While the 2023 federal budget takes some good first steps, Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns says it mostly misses the mark when it comes to making life more affordable for the average Canadian.

“This isn’t an NDP budget,” Johns emphasized on Tuesday, March 28 after the federal government announced $59.5 billion of new spending over the next five years. “This isn’t what our budget would look like.”

The Liberal government has three main focuses for its budget: the clean economic transition, health care and cost-of-living relief. One of the big ticket items is a dental-care insurance program, at a cost of $13 billion over five years beginning in fiscal year 2023-24. Program eligibility will be opened this year to people under the age of 18, seniors and people with disabilities who meet the income criteria and don’t have insurance. 

MP Gord Johns Addresses Federal Budget Lacking

While the 2023 federal budget takes some good first steps, Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns says it mostly misses the mark when it comes to making life more affordable for the average Canadian.

“This isn’t an NDP budget,” Johns emphasized on Tuesday, March 28 after the federal government announced $59.5 billion of new spending over the next five years. “This isn’t what our budget would look like.”

The Liberal government has three main focuses for its budget: the clean economic transition, health care and cost-of-living relief. One of the big ticket items is a dental-care insurance program, at a cost of $13 billion over five years beginning in fiscal year 2023-24. Program eligibility will be opened this year to people under the age of 18, seniors and people with disabilities who meet the income criteria and don’t have insurance.

“Our office is flooded with calls from people with disabilities and seniors that can’t wait to be eligible for this dental care plan,” he explained. “To see the road map and the commitment from the government on this…it’s really great. It significantly impacts people in Port Alberni, because we have a lot of people that meet that income bracket that need help.”

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