Victoria/Ottawa – BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris and Minister of Health Terry Lake, along with the co-chairs of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response, Dr. Perry Kendall and Clayton Pecknold, issued the following joint statement today in response to the federal announcement regarding a new Canadian drugs and substances strategy:
“We’re pleased to see the federal government moving forward on many of the actions B.C. has continuously advocated for to help address the overdose crisis. A national approach is needed, and the new Canada-wide drugs and substances strategy will help save people’s lives.
“A consistent, federal approach to effectively regulate and restrict access to pill presses and tableting machines is great news. We’ve consistently pushed for a national approach to ensure we effectively limit access to and illicit use of this equipment, given most of these machines are imported and easily transported between provinces.
“While pill presses are one factor in packaging and distributing illegal drugs, we are seeing illegally produced fentanyl and its analogues imported in varying amounts and mixed with other drugs. Just as recent steps by Health Canada to regulate precursors are important to stop production of fentanyl here, empowering front-line border officers who have concerns about even the smallest packages entering Canada is an important and complementary step toward stopping the flow of opioids onto our streets.
“As part of the multi-pronged approach to the overdose crisis, we have clear evidence that supervised consumption services help prevent overdose deaths, as well as reduce the risk of communicable diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, and health authorities continue their work to set up these important services. Making it easier to establish supervised consumption services by streamlining the federal application process will not only prevent overdose fatalities, it will help connect people into treatment and recovery services.
“Together, these measures will build on an array of recent awareness, enforcement, harm reduction and public safety measures we’ve pursued in response to the overdose crisis. Enforcement that restricts the drug trade’s access to opioids like fentanyl, and to equipment that helps dealers to hide fatal doses in pill form, will ultimately be stronger as a result of a federal approach.
“Today’s announcement confirms what we knew from recent meetings in Ottawa, that the federal government was committed to act quickly on these and other recommendations that B.C. advanced. Again, we believe a strong federal response will be most effective in helping to save lives and we thank the federal government for bolstering the tools in place to combat this crisis.”