Today Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown joined Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris for a roundtable discussion on Ontario’s opioid crisis. The roundtable included senior law enforcement officials, public health officials and community members.
“Opioid and fentanyl abuse have reached a crisis point in Ontario. When so many preventable deaths are occurring it’s clear we need to focus on preventative measures that stop this crisis in its tracks,” said Brown. “Too often, opioids are cheap and easy to get, they’re dangerous – bootleg fentanyl is a real problem.”
Opioid overdoses and deaths continue to rise in Waterloo Region, with over 20 people dying of overdoses this year.
“We need to help protect our communities from the criminal activity of bootleg fentanyl, and one part of the solution is cracking down on illegal pill-press machines,” added Brown.
Brown referenced MPP Harris’ Private Member’s Bill, which would prohibit anyone other than a pharmacist or license holder from possessing a pill press. It would also ensure offenders are jailed, with a first offence carrying up to six months in prison.
“Months ago I tabled legislation at Queen’s Park to crack down on those who operate illegal pill-press machines,” said Harris. “This is a non-partisan issue and I hope the Liberals will make this bill a priority.”
A report from the Waterloo Regional Police Services said seizures of bootleg fentanyl by frontline police officers grew from just over two grams in 2015 to 624 grams in 2016. Last year 54 overdose deaths were the direct result of fentanyl overdoses.
“The Waterloo Region community is doing an exceptional job with the resources they have,” said Harris. “But we need to ensure they have the tools they need to combat this crisis. This legislation could save lives.”