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B.C. mayors say Ottawa’s plan to relax drug possession penalties not enough to help opioid crisis

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B.C. mayors say Ottawa’s plan to relax drug possession penalties not enough to help opioid crisis

The federal authorities has equipped a singular bill to repeal mandatory minimal penalties for sure drug offences, and while the alternate is a critical shift a ways from incarceration, some B.C. leaders say it’s a ways going to also like gone extra.

Early Newspaper
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart mentioned he welcomes the federal authorities’s plan to within the discount of incarceration of Indigenous and Unlit Canadians for non-violent drug offences but it wished to scramble extra. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Two British Columbia mayors bearing plan to the horrific affect a toxic drug supply is having on their communities are calling on Ottawa to attain greater than within the discount of penalties for drug crimes — saying bolder moves are wished to form out a national overdose crisis that has killed greater than 20,000 Canadians since 2016.

On Feb. 18, Federal Justice Minister and Attorney Overall, David Lametti, equipped Invoice C-22, which, if it passes, will repeal mandatory minimal penalties for sure drug offences.

Whereas Lametti says the focus of C-22 is to within the discount of the option of Unlit and Indigenous folk being arrested and incarcerated for drug crimes, the mayors of Vancouver and Prince George say the proposed adjustments to the Prison Code, while welcomed, attain not scramble a ways enough.

“I attain direct the bill also can like gone extra when it comes to decriminalization,” mentioned Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, talking Monday on CBC’s The Early Version

Demands to decriminalize

In November, Vancouver Metropolis Council unanimously approved a circulate to put the premise of decriminalization for possession of minute portions of drugs ahead to the federal authorities. The resolution turned into as soon as made with, on moderate, one particular person a day dying within town from toxic aspect road drugs, in accordance to the mayor.

Stewart mentioned the proposed laws, which would divert non-violent drug offenders a ways from incarceration and into addictions therapy, would not like a lot of an affect in Vancouver, the build aside the mayor mentioned city police totally advised about six possession charges in 2020 anyway. 

A rose in memory of these lost to the opioid crisis is pictured at the intersection of East Hastings Avenue and Main Avenue within the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

That very same 365 days, over 1,700 British Columbians were killed by illicit drugs.

“I in truth direct the federal and provincial governments need to salvage a grip on what’s occurring to our communities factual across the province,” mentioned Stewart.

Lametti, also talking on The Early Version Monday, called the scenario complex and that C-22 turned into as soon as never supposed to be a panacea.

“It turned into as soon as meant to drugs another bid,” he mentioned, adding the drug crisis is “a higher debate with totally different factors that, frankly, didn’t near into the concerns that I turned into as soon as making an strive at for this explicit bill.” 

Products and companies lacking

Lametti mentioned the authorities shall be working with the provinces to provide monetary strengthen to bolster community capabilities so there are enough rehabilitation choices for drug offenders that can possibly possibly otherwise be incarcerated.

This is something Lori Ackerman, the mayor of Fort St. John, says is desperately wished in northern B.C., the build aside overdose deaths like spiked.

Measured by health authority, the supreme charges of deaths in 2020 were within the Northern Health and Vancouver Coastal Health areas, with 44 and 38 deaths per 100,000 folk respectively, in accordance to the B.C. Coroners Provider.

Justice Minister David Lametti tabled laws Feb. 18 that affords with adjustments to how drug possession cases are handled by the justice system. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Ackerman mentioned a critical option of folk dying are blue collar workers and she suspects the stigma is struggling with folk from talking out, or searching for help, in her community.

And help, she mentioned, is worrying to salvage which intention Lametti’s proposed laws will not help her constituents a lot both without authorities investment in housing and psychological health supports. 

“There may well be minute to no companies and products to put them through,” she mentioned. “There comes a degree the build aside we true need to stop pulling folk out of the river and scramble upstream to discover why they’re falling in,” she added, quoting Desmond Tutu.

Lori Ackerman, the mayor of Fort St. John, B.C., as soon as worked for the local Salvation Military and says companies and products for folk with substance utilize factors in northern B.C. are sorely lacking. (Lori Ackerman)

In accordance to Stewart, the federal NDP also can be proposing amendments to Invoice C-22 that can possibly possibly affect it more whole. Those proposed amendments like not been confirmed by CBC.

At a Vancouver Police Board meeting final week, an audit equipped to the board confirmed Indigenous folk were disproportionately stopped for aspect road assessments by city police in 2020.

Stewart, who has called for a ban on aspect road assessments, mentioned he is overjoyed to glimpse justice for Unlit and Indigenous folk, he turned into as soon as true hoping for more from the Justice Ministry.

“Work with the mayors to are attempting intrepid steps to within the discount of the overdose and loss of life fee,” he mentioned. “It be true merely unacceptable and we’re not doing enough.

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B.C. mayors say Ottawa’s plan to relax drug possession penalties not enough to help opioid crisis