Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, June 10, 2022. Over a year since the federal government's expert task force recommended it create a safe supply of drugs to reduce people's reliance on the toxic street supply, the government has not created any system to procure one.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Federal government has not created system to source safe supply to reduce overdoses

Over a year since the federal government’s expert task force recommended it create a safe supply of substances to reduce people’s reliance on toxic street drugs, the government has not created any system to procure one.

Carolyn Bennett, minister of mental health and addictions, said recently in a parliamentary committee meeting the government is building toward a plan to address the opioid crisis, but was less clear on what steps it is taking toward sourcing a safe supply.

NDP MP Gord Johns, who is also the party’s mental health and addictions critic, says the government “clearly” does not have a plan around safe supply.

Natasha Touesnard, executive director of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs and co-chair of the government’s expert task force, says the government’s slow action on safe supply shows it does not value the lives of people who use drugs.

A regulated and safe supply of opioids is meant to ensure people don’t rely on the unregulated and highly dangerous drug supply on the street.

The expert task force said in its report last year that there is an “urgent need” for safe supply to address the overdose crisis.