Mayor Stewart calls for immediate approval of decriminalization and expansion of safe supply

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November 09, 2021

The following is a statement from Mayor Kennedy Stewart following the latest release of drug toxicity deaths from the B.C. Coroners Service:

“I am both saddened and angered to hear of the tragic loss of 333 more lives to suspected illicit drug toxicity in August and September in B.C. from the BC Coroners Service. In Vancouver it means one death every 18 hours.

It is beyond unacceptable. And it doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why today, I am calling on Health Canada to act swiftly in response to the City’s request for an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). 

Action on this critical measure to save lives is long overdue. I have spoken personally with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and look forward to speaking soon with Canada’s new Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos and new Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett, to impress upon them both the urgent need for bold action and the immediate approval of our application.

But decriminalization alone is not a silver bullet. I continue to advocate to B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson for the expansion of safe supply and to listen to the feedback from people with lived experiences who have expressed the need for a non-medicalized model such as compassion clubs, so that safe supply can reach those who need it. I hope that this policy can be strengthened by the Province, as soon as possible.

We cannot stand on the sidelines and do nothing while our neighbours and loved ones die from a preventable health crisis of our own making. All levels of government must act quickly and decisively to prevent more drug poisonings and overdose deaths.”

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