I am thrilled to share with you that Bill C-224 is the first House of Commons Private Member’s bill to be passed by both chambers in the 42nd Parliament. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act passed its final legislative stage this evening and became Canadian Law on Thursday May 4th, 2017.
Opioid overdoses are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians of all ages, and from all walks of life. The impact of the opioid crisis continues to be devastating to individuals, families and communities. Many of these deaths are preventable if medical attention is received quickly, but evidence shows that witnesses to an overdose often do not call 911 for fear of police involvement. This is why the Government of Canada has taken action to encourage and protect people who are witnessing an overdose so they can seek help, and ultimately, save lives.
The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides 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 911 for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives.
The Act was originally introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by MP Ron McKinnon, the original Bill sponsor and Member of Parliament for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.
Drug addiction is an illness that requires care and compassion like any other health condition. The Government of Canada recognizes the dedication of first responders as key players on the front line in addressing the opioid crisis. Over the past year, the federal government has been building a new approach to drug policy by working collaboratively with communities, provinces, territories and key stakeholders, including addiction experts, the medical community, first responders, Indigenous groups, non-governmental organizations, as well as Canadians with lived experience.
The Government of Canada is committed to implementing a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based response to Canada’s opioid crisis. For more information on what the Government of Canada is doing to combat the opioid crisis, please visit Canada.ca/opioids.
This enactment amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order to exempt from charges for possession a person who seeks emergency medical or law enforcement assistance for themselves or another person following overdosing on a controlled substance.
An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (assistance — drug overdose)
Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
This Act may be cited as the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act
The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is amended by adding the following after section 4:
4.1 (1) For the purposes of this section, overdose means a physiological event induced by the introduction of a controlled substance into the body of a person that results in a life-threatening situation and that a reasonable person would believe requires emergency medical or law enforcement assistance.
(2) No one who seeks emergency medical or law enforcement assistance because they, or another person, are suffering from an overdose is to be charged under subsection 4(1) if the evidence in support of that offence was obtained or discovered as a result of that person having sought assistance and having remained at the scene.
(3) The exemption under subsection (2) applies to any person who is at the scene upon the arrival of the emergency medical or law enforcement assistance.
Full Text and version française of/de Bill C-224: here
"I am very pleased to support this bill with my colleague Mr. McKinnon... It will save lives and supports our comprehensive harm reduction and drug policy" - Jane Philpott PC, former federal Minister of Health
Jati Sidhu, Former MP Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, Liberal
Nicola D’iorio, Former MP Saint-Leonard – Saint Michel, Liberal
Colin Fraser, Former MP West Nova, NDP
Murray Rankin, Former MP Victoria, NDP
Bob Bratina, MP Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Liberal
Doug Eyolfson, Former MP Charlesford-St.James-Assinboia-Headingley, Liberal
Elizabeth May, Former Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP Saanich-Gulf Islands
Salma Zahid, MP Scarborough Centre, Liberal
Chris Bittle, MP St. Catharines, Liberal
Denis Lemieux, Former MP Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, Liberal
Larry Bagnell, MP Yukon, Liberal
John Aldag, Former MP Cloverdale-Langley City, Liberal
Ali Ehsassi, MP Willowdale, Liberal
Dan Ruimy, Former MP Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, Liberal
Sukh Dhaliwal, MP Surrey-Newton, Liberal
Irqa Khalid, MP Mississauga-Erin Mills, Liberal
Ken Hardie, MP Fleetwood-Port Kells, Liberal
Randeep Sarai, MP Surrey Centre, Liberal
Ken McDonald, MP Avalon, Liberal
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