Health Canada agrees to begin formal discussions on decriminalization with City of Vancouver

VANCOUVER Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Wednesday announced that Health Canada had agreed to begin formal discussions with the City of Vancouver on the latter’s plan to decriminalize simple possession of illicit drugs.

Stewart said: “This is another hopeful and critical milestone on the path towards fully embracing a health-focussed approach to substance use in the City of Vancouver.”

He added: “I would like to thank Canada’s Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, for her positive response and for her attention and dedication to this file. This news comes at a time when the overdose crisis in our city has never been worse, with a person-a-day still needlessly dying due to poison drugs. While 2020 looks to be the deadliest year on record for overdoses, I am hopeful that this news from Ottawa can mean that 2021 will be different.

“The City of Vancouver looks forward to working with officials from Health Canada, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Police Department, community groups and advocates, as well as people with lived experience to craft a framework to determine how decriminalization will be implemented.”