PM Harper Announces Plan to Strengthen the National Anti-Drug Strategy

August 11, 2015

The Issue

Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government has taken consistent action to crack down on illegal drugs in our neighbourhoods:

  • The Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) which was passed in March 2012 established mandatory minimums for certain drug offences such as trafficking.
  • Vanessa’s Law which was passed in November 2014 to protect Canadian from unsafe medicine by (i) introducing new penalties for unsafe penalties, (ii) compelling drug companies to revise labels to better reflect health-risk information in plain language, and (iii) enhancing surveillance by requiring mandatory adverse drug reaction reporting by health-care institutions.
  • The Drug Free Prisons Act was passed in June 2015 to stipulate that the Parole Board of Canada has authorities to account for failed drug tests or refused drug tests in parole decisions.
  • The National Anti-Drug Strategy was launched, renewed and enhanced to prevent drug use, treat dependency, and reduce the production and distribution of illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse.

 

Yet there is more to be done.  Following are some relevant statistics:

  • The Department of Health’s Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring 2012 Survey found that abuse of prescription psychoactive substances had increased over the previous year from 3.2 percent in 2011 to 6.5 percent in 2012.
  • The rate of drug use among youth aged 15 to 24 years remains much higher than that reported among adults 25 years and older. The average age of first use is just 15.7 years.
  • The rate of cannabis use is three times higher among youth (25.1 percent versus 7.9 percent for adults) and the use of any drugs excluding cannabis is almost nine times higher (7.9 percent versus 0.8 percent for adults).
  • Between 70 percent and 80 percent of individuals entering correctional services in Canada have been identified as having problems with substance abuse.

 

The Plan

The National Anti-Drug Strategy was launched in 2006, renewed in 2012, and enhanced in 2014.  The strategy is based on three pillars: prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

The strategy is working.  A 2012 evaluation concluded that “each of the three action plans (prevention, treatment, and enforcement) has made considerable progress against their intended outcomes” but “all lines of evidence indicate a strong continuing need for the Strategy.”[1]

A re-elected Harper Government will continue to support the National Anti-Drug Strategy, and strengthen it in all three key areas, at an incremental cost of $5M annually beginning in 2016-17.

In addition to moving forward with the existing National Anti-Drug Strategy, the Harper government will introduce three additional steps to support prevention, treatment and enforcement:

Additional Support for Parents

A re-elected Harper Government will invest $2M over 4 years to support a national
toll-free helpline in conjunction with Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada where parents can get advice and guidance to help them recognize the signs of drug use and to prevent their children from using drugs in the first place.

Increased Funding for Enforcement

A re-elected Harper Government will provide a 20-percent increase in funding to the RCMP’s Clandestine Laboratory Teams to target the production of illegal drugs, including grow ops and meth labs.  The RCMP currently receives $22M annually for these Teams.

This additional funding will allow these teams to build on their record of productive enforcement.  In 2012-13, 22 clandestine labs were seized by the RCMP: 14 for the production of Methamphetamine, 2 for MDMA, 2 for DMT, 2 for Marijuana resin extraction, 1 for Red Phosphorous extraction and 1 for the production of steroids.[2]

Mental Health Commission Renewal

The 2015 Budget renewed the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s funding for ten years beginning in 2017-18.  A re-elected Harper Government will update the commission’s mandate to prioritize research on the link between substance abuse and mental health.

Evidence shows a strong link between substance abuse and mental health.  Thirty percent of individuals diagnosed with a mental disorder will have a substance abuse disorder at some time in their lives.  Evidence also shows possible linkages between marijuana use and the development of certain mental health conditions in some members of the population. The renewed Mental Health Commission will work with the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse to increase the integration of mental health and substance abuse initiatives.  

Respect for Communities Act

A re-elected Harper Government will continue to implement the Respect For Communities Act which establishes rigorous criteria that must be addressed before the Minister of Health can consider an exemption application under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for activities at a supervised drug injection site where illicit drugs would be used.

Under the Act, applicants for supervised drug injection sites will be required to seek the views of local law enforcement, municipal leaders, public health officials, and provincial and territorial ministers responsible for health. Families and local residents will also be consulted and have a say whenever there is a proposal to open a supervised drug injection site in their community.

 

The Choice

For Prime Minister Stephen Harper, keeping dangerous drugs away from our children isn’t a point of debate.

Justin refuses to acknowledge the damage that drugs do to families and communities.  He wants to allow the sale of marijuana in corner stores, a dangerously misguided policy that would only make drugs more accessible to our children.  And, he wants to see more drug injections sites in our neighbourhoods. (“I certainly want to see more safe injection sites opened around the country” Ottawa Citizen, April 9, 2015).

Thomas Mulcair supports dangerous policies that would encourage the use of drugs and increase the health, crime and community safety problems that come with it.  Thomas Mulcair’s party says it “proudly” supports heroin injection sites and would welcome their establishment in more neighbourhoods across the country.  (“I am very proud to come from British Columbia, which has the first safe injection site in North America… it makes me proud.” Murray Rankin, March 13, 2015)

The Opposition parties would roll back our Respect For Communities Act.  They would deny a voice to parents and local residents when drug injection sites are proposed in residential neighbourhoods. They would expand drug injection sites to neighbourhoods across the country.

Only Prime Minister Stephen Harper will continue to combat any growth in the use of illegal drugs by our children and in our communities.

 

 

 

[1] See: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cp-pm/eval/rep-rap/12/nas-sna/p0.html.

[2] See: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cp-pm/dpr-rr/2012_2013/supp/hi-ih.html.

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