HANSARD: Debating the Conservatives on Opioid Crisis

Debates of May 18th, 2023 / 4:40 p.m.
House of Commons Hansard #200 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session.
Opposition Motion—Opioid Crisis
Business of Supply
Government Orders

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, New Democrats absolutely support the idea that Purdue Pharma should be sued and made to pay. That is something the NDP called for the Liberal government to do a long time ago. I am glad that the Conservatives finally figured that out and are now on board.

However, to suggest that safer supply is somehow equivalent to what Purdue Pharma is doing is wrong. Purdue Pharma, by the way, was allowing for the drug to be made available and suggesting to doctors that this is an effective painkiller without acknowledging the addictive component of it.

With respect to safer supply, it is only applied to people at the highest risk who are already addicted, so it is a fundamentally different thing. Lisa Lapointe, the B.C. chief coroner, said that the drug poisoning crisis is the direct result of an unregulated drug market. That is what is at issue. That is what safer supply is trying to deal with. Is Lisa Lapointe wrong?

Garnett Genuis Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague spoke about the intention of the program. I do not deny that there are good intentions on all sides of the House when it comes to this issue. I am just interested in looking at the results.

The reason I see the Purdue program of overpromotion and of trying to minimize stigma about the substance to get more people to use it as very similar to, and in a substantive sense the same as, the safe supply program is that it was about flooding more supply of dangerous substances into the market, making them easier to access. At that time, and still today, that increase in supply is supposed to only go to certain people in certain kinds of situations. However, what we have seen is that when there is a big increase in the supply of dangerous drugs in the market, they do not only land in the hands of those who are supposed to get them. They land in the hands of children who have not used them before, and this increases the risks to everybody.

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