By Travis Lupick, for Straight

Nurses are the unsung heroes of Canada’s health-care system. They know their patients well and often play vital roles communicating their needs and advocating for their care. When nurses speak, we should listen.

Today (August 8), B.C. nurses collectively raised their voice to urge B.C. to stop arresting people for the personal possession of illicit narcotics, including hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

“[We] call on the B.C. government to take immediate steps to move toward the decriminalization of people who use drugs,” reads a statement issued by the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of British Columbia (NNPBC), a professional organization with more than 3,800 members, and the Harm Reduction Nurses Association (HRNA), a national organization with members across Canada.

“As nurses who work in B.C. and provide frontline care in the midst of this public health emergency, we see firsthand the impact of criminalization on our clients, on their families, on our practice and our communities,” it continues.

“As nurses, we see decriminalization as an essential step to remove barriers to care and support, reduce stigma and discrimination, improve health and socioeconomic outcomes, and work toward a more just and compassionate society.”