Tragically, too many people have lost their lives to opioid-related overdoses, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly affect Canadians who use drugs or who are in recovery. The Government of Canada is committed to examining all options and evidence to respond to the tragic increase in overdoses and help save lives, while ensuring that communities across the country are safe.
The Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS), announced in 2016, is the federal government's comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to drug policy, which uses a public health lens to address substance use issues. In response to the current context, and a number of calls to take this health-focused approach to substance use further, the Minister of Health has established an Expert Task Force on Substance Use (the Task Force).
The Task Force has a mandate to provide Health Canada with independent, expert advice and recommendations on:
- the federal government's drug policy, as outlined in the CDSS, to further strengthen the public health approach to substance use; and,
- potential alternatives to criminal penalties for the simple possession of controlled substances, with the goals of reducing the effects of criminal sanctions on people who use drugs, while maintaining support for community and public safety.
2021 - May
In May 2021, the Task Force submitted their first report to Health Canada, titled Recommendations on alternatives to criminal penalties for simple possession of controlled substances. This report provides advice and recommendations on potential alternatives to criminal penalties for the simple possession of controlled substances.
2021 - June
In June 2021, the Task Force submitted their second and final report to Health Canada, titled Recommendations on the federal government's drug policy as articulated in a draft Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS).