It’s a monumental step towards saving lives as the death toll from drug overdoses in our country continues to climb.
On Thursday, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act became law – protecting those afraid of calling 911 in the event of an overdose from facing drug charges of their own.
Marie Agioritis, of Saskatoon, has advocated for the change after a life-altering loss in 2015.
“The pain doesn’t go away. It’s chronic, lifelong but you learn to carry the weight, that’s all,” Agioritis said.
More than two years ago on Jan. 3, her 19-year-old son Kelly Best died from a fentanyl overdose.
At the time of the lethal overdose, Kelly’s friend was in the room and didn’t call 911.
“I can only suspect that the boy was panicked and didn’t know what to do himself,” Marie added.
“He did try to call somebody but ultimately it was much too late for Kelly.”
At the time when the bill was tabled, a Canadian study revealed that 46 per cent of drugs users who had witnessed someone experiencing an overdose called 911 and left the scene or they didn’t call out of fear they would face their own criminal charges related to drug possession.
This law would protect these individuals from simple possession charges who going forward will no longer need to fear the law when seconds count and any delay in calling 911 could result in death.
“It applies to the people that make the call, the people who stick around that help the victim and the victim – him or herself,” Ron McKinnon, the B.C. Liberal MP who tabled to the bill, said.
Previously, police may have turned a blind eye while saving a life but this change, according to McKinnon, will now allow forces to do everything by the book amid Canada’s drug overdose crisis.
Each year, hundreds of opioid overdoses claim the lives of Canadians of all ages and in many cases, the deaths were preventable.
Agioritis said by sharing her family’s story and support by the bill, her son’s death wasn’t in vain and that she’s shed of few tears of both hope and heartbreak as the act became law.
“Had it been in place and all the structure and notifications that went out with it – there’s a really good chance it would have saved my son and it would have saved a whole lot of other kids I know too.”