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MPs debate how Canada should approach fighting fentanyl, opioid crises

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor commented in the House of Commons that declaring the Opioid crisis in Canada as a "public health emergency" wouldn't help in anyway.

The House of Commons is set to hold a lengthy discussion Monday evening on how Canada should tackle its opioid crisis.

Members of parliament will debate a number of recommendations, including how to stop criminals from profiting from bringing illegal drugs like fentanyl into vulnerable communities, how to improve treatment services for drug users and how best to address the socio-economic conditions that push people towards drug use and related criminality.

WATCH: John Barlow recounts his best friend’s fight with opioid addiction

John Barlow recounts his best friend’s fight with opioid addiction
John Barlow recounts his best friend’s fight with opioid addiction

The discussion, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Monday, comes in the wake of a series of Global News investigations that laid bare how an assortment of criminal groups, ranging from China-based gangs and Mexican cartels to small-time street dealers, are making a killing from the fentanyl trade.

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READ MORE: China won’t stop flood of fentanyl into Canada, sources say

Global News’ multi-part series, Fentanyl: Making a Killing, revealed that the scale of the fentanyl trade is so large that related money-laundering is suspected to have disrupted the Vancouver-area housing market.

While fentanyl traffickers and dealers gained astounding wealth, they have also left a trail of bodies behind — nearly a dozen Canadians died each day from opioid overdoses last year. Over 8,000 have lost their lives due to fentanyl use since 2016.

WATCH: How fentanyl gets into Canada

How fentanyl gets into Canada
How fentanyl gets into Canada

READ MORE: Opioid crisis may be lowering Canadians’ life expectancy, report says

Behind those shocking statistics are tragic stories of individuals, families and communities plunged into crisis by the scourge of fentanyl.

WATCH: Global News reports on the impact of the opioid crisis on families

The plight of opioid-ravaged communities such as Simcoe County in southern Ontario, highlighted in Global News’ reporting, is expected to take centre-stage in Monday night’s discussions.

READ MORE: How lethal opioids devastated a small region of Ontario

Also likely to be discussed is the lack of specific plans to help children affected by the opioid crisis, data on which isn’t even collected by Statistics Canada.

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WATCH: Coverage of Canada’s fentanyl crisis on Globalnews.ca

MPs will also be urged to look to success stories in jurisdictions such as Portugal and Miami, Fla., both of which have implemented radical policies — including allowing drug users access to outpatient programs in lieu of jail time — and discuss how Canada could follow their examples.

A range of recommendations tackling specific issues ranging from harm reduction, education and outreach to data collection, criminal penalties and federal-provincial-municipal cooperation are also expected to be discussed and debated.

— With files from Stewart Bell, Andrew Russell and Sam Cooper

Follow @jesseferreras

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