My grandson, Derek, died alone in his apartment from fentanyl drug poisoning on Oct. 27, 2020.
Although he is/was the most loved person in my life, his death was very typical of the more than 25,000 people who died of drug poisoning in the past five years. He was just 27 – most deaths occur in men aged 20 to 49, and 87 per cent of opioid deaths involved fentanyl, according to federal government statistics.
Derek was clean for a few years at a time and was proud of this. He tattooed his first clean date on his back. It was hard for anyone who knew Derek not to love him. Young kids and pets would choose to sit close to him wherever he would visit. If anyone needed help, he would help. When clean and sober he would help and sponsor others in need.
He did not deserve to die because his sickness was addiction. If he had problems with his heart or had cancer, life saving drugs would not have been kept from him and he would not have to worry about time in prison if he acquired these drugs.
The proven solutions to this drug poisoning crisis that is killing so many people is partly in passing and implementing bill C-216. This bill goes for second reading in May. It includes decriminalizing all drugs, having on-demand detox and treatment for addiction, use of harm reduction treatment and supervised drug-use sites.
These are the basis of the policies that helped Portugal go from the highest overdose rate in Europe to being being an example of drug policies that work to reduce addiction and give it one of the lowest overdose rates in the world. In Canada we have a few successful projects that work using safe supply until people are ready to quit.
This bill is being presented by the federal NDP, but I hope other MPs with a conscience will also support it. Please write, email or phone your MP and ask them to support bill C-216 when it gets to second reading in the House of Commons this May. Thank you.