May 22nd, 2024

Ottawa ‘urgently’ waiting for info from B.C. before deciding on drug criminalization

By The Canadian Press on May 1, 2024.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Ya'ara Saks says the decision about whether to recriminalize drug use in British Columbia needs to be made urgently, but she's still waiting for more information from the province before making a call. Saks rises during during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday, April 29, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Mental Health and Addictions Minister Ya’ara Saks says the decision about whether to recriminalize drug use in British Columbia needs to be made urgently, but she’s still waiting for more information from the province before making a call.

The province is one year into a three-year pilot project to decriminalize possession of small amounts of certain illegal drugs, including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Last week, B.C. Premier David Eby asked Health Canada to recriminalize the use of those drugs in public spaces, such as hospitals and parks.

Saks says she’s asked B.C. to respond to Ottawa’s questions quickly, but would not say what information she’s requested.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre posted a letter to X today asking that Trudeau reject Toronto’s own longstanding request to extend the decriminalization pilot.

Toronto Public Health said in a statement Monday that it is monitoring B.C’s experience, and that in its proposed model, public drug use would remain illegal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2024.

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