OTTAWA – The Liberals and NDP are working together to expedite the passage of a bill designed to help combat the country’s opioid crisis, including measures to reduce barriers to accessing supervised injection sites.
The legislation, tabled by the Liberals in December, also lifts a restriction that bars border guards from inspecting packages under 30 grams in weight, even if they have reason to believe they contain illegal drugs.
It would also impose new restrictions on the import of pill presses and encapsulators —two machines commonly used in the production of illicit drugs.
WATCH: Digging Deeper – Opioid crisis in Canada
It is critical for the legislation to pass as soon as possible to save lives, said NDP health critic Don Davies. He pointed to a lack of new injection sites established since stringent criteria were established under the previous Conservative government.
In January 2016, the Dr. Peter Centre in B.C. — a site in operation since 2002 because law enforcement turned a blind eye— received an exemption required under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to sanction its activities.
Insite in Vancouver also received an exemption in the spring allowing it to continue operations for another four years.
“Bottom line is: I don’t think we should be sitting around debating while people are dying and when we know we can take action immediately,” Davies said.
Health officials and political leaders across the country have sounded the alarm about the rise in opioid deaths — a national crisis that was the subject of a summit in Ottawa last fall.