The government of Canada has a long history of systemic abuse against people who use drugs. However, because of the work of activists, and the implementation of the Canadian Charter in 1982, Canada’s drug policy has shifted towards policies that emphasize harm reduction and improving the quality of life of PWUD.
In this section, four “dope policy” positions are discussed, each of which have the potential to make significant positive change for PWUD. CRISM PWLE Working Group members referenced each of these policies, and argued for their merits and/or drawbacks. Drug policy is complex, where change is created by grassroots organizing and the inclusion of those directly affected by the issues the policies are being designed to relieve; as one group member emphasizes it can only be changed together:
“We have to push the envelope at all levels of government to work as one and to work with us. That’s what we need. We need everybody to work hand in hand. One hand does not clap. It takes two hands.”
Decriminalization may not be a silver bullet, but it is necessary to tackle the stigma of criminalization...
Legalization broadly refers to the regulation of the drug market. To us, legalization is...
Onsite Harm Reduction Services
To address the dual pandemics, we need more accessible harm reduction, it needs to be available everywhere, and operated by people who use drugs.
Access to Treatment
“We don’t only want a handful of doctors or nurse practitioners to write that script. We want all doctors, all nurse practitioners to write that script.”
"People who use drugs (PWUD) face concurrent public health emergencies from overdoses, HIV, hepatitis C, and COVID-19, leading to an unprecedented syndemic. Responses to PWUD that go beyond treatment—such as decriminalization and providing a safe supply of pharmaceutical-grade drugs—could reduce impacts of this syndemic. Solutions already implemented for COVID-19, such as emergency safe-supply prescribing and providing housing to people experiencing homelessness, must be sustained once COVID-19 is contained. This pandemic is not only a public health crisis but also a chance to develop and maintain equitable and sustainable solutions to the harms associated with the criminalization of drug use."
- Matt Bonn