Under new legislation, it is going to be easier for communities to set up safe injection sites.
“Extraordinary realities require extraordinary measures,” said Jane Philpott, federal minister of health, adding that she hopes bill C-37 will be expedited, “given that people are dying every day.”
“Bill C-37 proposes to simplify the legislative requirements for communities that want and need to open and operate supervised consumption sites,” said Phillpott.
Phillpott said Canada is facing a serious and growing public health matter in the ongoing opiate crisis and Bill C-37 provides tools to deal with it.
“It will replace the national anti-drug strategy. It will re-frame problematic substance use as a public health issue it is,” said Phillpott. “We will reinstate harm reduction as a key pillar in this strategy.”
The new bill replaces the 26 application criteria in previous legislation with a general requirement that the site in question must demonstrate public health and safety benefits. The minister will then be able to approve a proposed site based on five criteria: need, community consultation, the affect on crime and whether regulatory systems and resources are in place.
“The evidence is clear. Well established and well maintained consumption sites save lives,” said Phillpott.
On the enforcement side, the Canada Border Services Agency will be given tools to intercept fentanyl and fentanyl precursors at the border.
“We also need to toughen and tighten our borders here at home,” said Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety and emergency preparedness.
The CBSA will be given increased authority to inspect packages coming in from offshore. Tools used to create pills, like pill presses and encapsulators will now require pre-approval before being brought into Canada.
“Border officers need this authority to help save Canadian lives,” said Goodale, pointing out that as little as 30 grams of pure fentanyl could make 15,000 doses.