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PHPC Motions for the Great Canadian Health Care Debate


PHPC Submitted a motion to the 2017 Great Canadian Healthcare Debate, part of the National Health Leadership Conference.

Click here for more information on the Debate and the selection process.

A special thank-you to: Jia Hu, Perry Kendall, Brian Emerson, Pamela Leece, Aaron Orkin, Alexa Caturay, Rita Shahin, Ingrid Tyler, Ryan Sommers, Thomas Piggott, Colleen Fuller, Mats Junek and Kathryn Marsilio


Resolved that, in the context of the rapidly worsening drug overdose epidemic, governments of Canada immediately implement evidence-based drug policies across all four drug pillar strategies including: (1) Rapidly expanding access to opioid substitution therapy (OST), including injectable OST, as well as supervised consumption sites; (2) Enhancing distribution of naloxone kits and training; (3) Reducing medical treatment with opioids by improving prescribing policies and improving access to alternate forms of pain control (such as publicly insured physiotherapy); (4) Decriminalizing personal possession of all psychoactive drugs and; (5) Supporting regulated access to quality-controlled forms of psychoactive drugs.


Canada is facing an unprecedented opioid harm crisis. In 2016, 914 people in British Columbia alone died from illegal drug overdoses, an 80% increase from the previous year. This led BC's Provincial Health Officer to declare a public health emergency. Other Canadian provinces such as Alberta and Ontario are also contending with rapid increases in opioid-related morbidity and mortality.

This crisis has been fueled by high rates of pharmaceutical opioid prescribing and the advent of potent, illegally-produced synthetic opioids, now widely accessible for online order. Canada has some of the highest rates of opioid prescribing in the world, which has created high rates of opioid-dependency. Synthetic opioid analogues, which can be hundreds of times more powerful than morphine, are fast becoming ubiquitous in Canada’s illegal drug market. Illegal fentanyl in particular has caused an increasing number of opioid overdose deaths in western Canada. The combination of an opioid dependent population along with easily available potent synthetic opioids have created a perfect storm for the opioid crisis.

There have been significant efforts made to stem the opioid crisis, including significant public messaging and distribution of naloxone, an opioid antidote. Unfortunately, efforts thus far have failed to reverse increases in the number of deaths. Concerted action as described above will be crucial in stemming drug overdoses moving forwards.

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