Remarks by Prime Minister Trudeau on the Opioid Crisis
Vancouver, British Columbia
March 3, 2017
Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us.
What a pleasure to be back home in Vancouver after great visits in both Calgary and Victoria over the past couple of days. I just wrapped up a productive discussion with local representatives, frontline workers and stakeholders on an issue that’s been generating a significant amount of concern lately right across the country – talking, of course, about the opioid crisis here in Canada, which is nothing short of an absolute tragedy, especially here in B.C.
First thing this morning, I got to do a ride-along with the Vancouver Police Department, accompanied by Minister Sajjan, as all of you know, isn’t just our Minister of Defense now, but is a proud former member of the Vancouver Police Department, to see firsthand the impact that the opioid crisis is having on the downtown East Side, on the people who live there. The impacts have been devastating: families ripped apart, communities forever altered, loved ones lost too soon.
We’ve been meeting with and listening to Canadians across the country for many months on this, including the recent Big City Mayors Taskforce. And we’ve taken real, concrete action to tackle this issue head-on.
A few weeks ago, the government of Canada announced an additional $65 million over five years to help implement the government’s opioid action plan. We also announced an additional $10 million in urgent support for response efforts here in British Columbia where we know that opioid use has skyrocketed.
Not only that. We’ve recently re-introduced harm reduction as a pillar of our comprehensive drug strategy and expanded access to naxalone…naloxone.
In addition, we’ve adopted Bill C-37 in the House of Commons, which, if passed by the Senate, will streamline how communities apply for safe consumption sites.
And we know that Canada’s not alone in facing this deadly threat. When I was in Washington a few weeks back, President Trump and I announced that Canada and the U.S. will work together to stem the flow of illegal opioids across our borders. We have also established a similar partnership with China. The RCMP will work with the Chinese Minister of Public Security to stop fentanyl and other illicit opioids from entering Canada.
By working closely with our colleagues locally, provincially, nationally and internationally, we will develop short- and long-term solutions to resolve this problem – one that has already claimed far too many lives.
We, of course, have much more work to do. But we’re committed to acting in close collaboration over the coming months and years to provide real, lasting support to affected communities – both help in the short term and a path forward to get through and beyond this terrible crisis.