SURREY (January 30, 2023) – With just a day remaining until the decriminalization of personal possession of illicit drugs goes into effect in British Columbia, the NDP government remains unprepared to support the implementation of the experimental policy, which is the first of its kind in Canada.
“The agreement to move forward with a pilot project to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA for personal use, came with several conditions from the Federal government that the BC NDP have yet to meet,” said MLA Elenore Sturko, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Addictions, and Recovery. “As the clock ticks down, there has been a conspicuous lack of clarity from David Eby’s NDP government about how B.C. will meet its obligations to roll out the policy, and what steps it’s taking to increase supports for those suffering from addiction.”
With less than 24 hours until the policy is set to take effect, B.C. has fallen short of meeting the very specific actions and commitments outlined in the the Government of Canada’s Letter of Requirements to support B.C.’s exemption, including:
- Expanding the capacity of accessible treatment;
- Greater engagement with key stakeholders and indigenous partners;
- An increase in public education and communications;
- Ensuring the readiness and capacity of the health and social systems;
- Increased training and support for law enforcement; and
- The development of monitoring, applied research and evaluation models to measure the success of the program.
“Harm reduction efforts like decriminalization form only part of the comprehensive approach that’s needed to help put an end to this crisis that continues to claim six lives a day,” added Sturko. “Not only is the NDP unprepared to roll out this untried policy, but for the last five years, it’s also failed to place any emphasis on the implementation and funding of prevention, recovery, and treatment programs. People suffering from addiction must be able to immediately access the services they need when they need them, and that isn’t happening under the leadership of David Eby’s NDP.”