• Safe injection sites are an ethical imperative, not a political option

    This week, Toronto Police reported seven fatal overdoses in 12 days, all in the same area of the city where one of the sites was set to open… The health minister cited a need to review “the merit” of overdose prevention sites despite experts in the field warning that a pause in services could mean “we’ll have a lot more dead people.” … Safe injection and opioid overdose prevention sites are a matter of life or death, an ethical imperative and not a political “option.”

  • Ford’s government starts its misguided moves against safe injection sites

    Last year, nearly 4,000 Canadians died from opioid overdoses. And 1,100 of those deaths were in Ontario and over 300 of them in Toronto… Ford’s government hasn’t just stopped three urgently-needed facilities from opening, it seems all but ready to close existing sites and throw the province’s entire harm-reduction strategy out the window… Ford announced during the election campaign that he was “dead set” against the sites…

  • Take profit motive out of drug research

    “for pharmaceutical companies, there is little profit incentive to invest in drugs that quickly cure patients; medicine for chronic conditions presents a more tempting return on investment… ”Since the rise of neoliberalism, governments have increasingly stepped away from research in favour of letting profit-oriented private companies take the lead. The result has been a huge increase in lifestyle drugs, while life-saving drugs are often just a byproduct… Our governments need to reclaim their lead role in research and development so that they follow society’s needs instead of profits.

  • Should we make drug use illegal, or make it safer?

    The war on drugs has always been about trade and politics, trying to control and contain a lucrative market, and an excuse for political interference. We need to stop treating drug users like commodities to be controlled and contained, and start treating them like people who need to be supported and informed.

  • Supervised drug-use sites work well, and Ontario should keep them going

    Research has shown that the sites reduce overdose deaths, the length of drug users’ hospital stays and HIV infection rates. As if that wasn’t enough, the clinics also save public money by improving the health of intravenous-drug users… We hope this review is a face-saving measure by a government looking for an excuse to keep the clinics open despite its leader’s grandstanding on the issue.

  • Why Canada’s employers should back national pharmacare

    Canadians could save $7.3-billion to $10.7-billion (42.8 per cent) a year under a national pharmacare system. The bulk of those savings would accrue to employers who currently pay for drug insurance as part of their employee health plans. Even if the government took back some of those savings via taxes to help cover the cost of pharmacare, the net effect would be a major competitive advantage for Canadian employers, much in the way medicare is.

  • National pharmacare ‘blueprint’ will be unveiled next spring

    … the provinces do want to know “who is going to pay for the transformation, and how is the pie going to be divided after that?” … “It’s very important to provinces and territories that the federal commitment is there, it’s substantial, and that provinces and territories have confidence in that cost-sharing and that federal contribution, and that federal contribution will be there today and also into the future.”

  • Pharmacare and Politics

    Provincial drug plans today pay less than half of the total cost of prescription drugs; the rest is paid by private insurance plans or out of patients’ pockets. A set of single-payer “first-dollar” drug plans would likely more than double provincial and territorial government spending on drugs. Unless there are accompanying large increases in federal transfers, those governments are unlikely to agree to this approach. Increased federal transfers, however, would ultimately require higher federal taxes, making federal politicians less enthusiastic about this option.

  • After legalizing pot, is decriminalizing other drugs the logical next step?

    … Public-health officials have long recognized a reality that elected politicians are only belatedly appreciating: Drug use and dependency are best addressed with the tools of health policy, not those of criminal justice… decriminalization… upholds worthwhile social norms – that making, smuggling and trafficking illegal drugs is wrong – while acknowledging that those in the grip of dependency are ill.

  • Health officials in B.C., Toronto call for widespread decriminalization of illicit drugs

    … compared with criminal charges, diversion programs can reduce criminal justice system costs and reduce adverse social and economic consequences for the individual. A 2008 study from Australia found that the majority of participants without prior offences did not commit further offences and those with prior offences had reduced rates for reoffending after participating in the program. Under decriminalization… it would remain illegal to manufacture, sell and distribute illicit drugs.