As much as the House of Commons is often viewed as an adversarial environment there are also those times, albeit rare, when there is unanimous support for the passage of a bill. In the last Parliament, I was fortunate to have unanimous support for the passage of my bill to remove a prohibition era federal restriction preventing the personal movement of wine across provincial borders. Later the Government would expand on this bill to also include beer and spirits. Recently in the House of Commons another private member’s bill has received unanimous support and has also passed through the Senate and recently received Royal Assent.
Bill C-224 “An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” was sponsored by MP Ron McKinnon from Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam. This is a very important bill that may save lives. For many families in communities through British Columbia and Canada the opioid crisis is a very serious and real concern. Although the crises is reported on almost daily, often when a tragedy is concerned, not told are the countless others who suffer from addiction and may be only one drug away from an overdose that could be fatal.
Unfortunately history has shown that often when an overdose does occur in some cases it may not be reported to emergency responders in a timely manner as those who are with the overdosed individual fear law enforcement involvement once 9-1-1 has been called. These delays in treatment often end up in death.
Bill C-224 changes that. Technically Bill C-224 ensures that “ an exemption from charges of simple possession of a controlled substance as well as from charges concerning a pre-trial release, probation order, conditional sentence or parole violations related to simple possession for people who call 9-1-1 for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives”. In other words calling for help when an overdose occurs will now ensure that there will not be criminal charges against the good samaritan(s) that attempt to save a life. While more Government action is needed against the opioid crises any step that can help save lives is an important one.
For those who have asked about the progress of the Liberal Government Bill to legalize marijuana it has currently had introduction and first reading with debate to begin in the near future.
I welcome your comments and questions and be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.