Canada Takes Initiative to Help its Citizens Against Drug Overdose
A new federal law in Canada has been introduced, with the aim of putting more importance on protecting all Canadian lives whether or not they are drug users. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, first came on the radar last year as a private member’s bill by a Liberal Member of Parliament, Ron McKinnon, and got express approval in early May.
With rising rates of deaths from drug overdose throughout the country, the bill which intends to provide immunity to anyone who calls 911 in the event of a lethal overdose will go a long way towards saving lives.
McKinnon, who introduced the bill was from the home province of British Columbia, however, most provinces in Canada, from Alberta to Ontario will benefit from the new law. Most parts of the country have seen an increase in the use of commonly abused drugs that include opioids, heroin, and the increasingly popular fentanyl drug.
Speaking up in support of the bill that could have saved her son’s life, Marie Agioritis, of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan province, is the mother of a young man who died from a lethal overdose in 2015. At the time of her son’s opioid overdose, his friend who was in the room feared for his own welfare if he called 911. As such, he panicked instead of reacting quickly and the delay may have caused the life of Kelly Agioritis.
According to a Canadian study carried out when the bill was formally presented by the MP, about 46 percent of drug users in the country who had been present at the time of another drug user’s overdose either fled the scene after calling 911 or didn’t call for help at all for fear of facing criminal charges of their own for drug possession.
Thanks to the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, such individuals will be protected by law going forward and will not be brought up on drug possession charges. The hope is that there will no longer be fear when overdoses happen, as they will, and since time will be of the essence, delays that could result in death will be prevented.
The B.C. Liberal MP, Ron McKinnon in a statement said that the law will apply to those who step up and make the call to 911 in the event of overdoses, those who stay back to help the victims, as well as the victims themselves.
In the past, Canadian law enforcement may have occasionally turned a blind eye when a life was at stake, but McKinnon says this will allow them to do their jobs by the book and effectively tackle the crisis of drug overdoses in the country, and allow for better access to drug treatment.
Every year, people of all ages and in most cases, young people such as Kelly Agioritis, die from overdoses and this law could prevent some of those deaths.