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04 May 2017

Good Samaritan Drug overdose bill to become law

Bill protects people who call to report overdoses from being prosecuted for drug possession.

By: Ryan Tumilty Metro

A law to protect people from facing drug charges if they call to report an in-progress overdose is set to become law.

After passing the Senate with a few amendments, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, cleared its final legislative hurdle Wednesday night in the House of Commons.

The law makes clear that police will not pursue minor charges like drug possession against anyone who calls to report that someone is having an overdose.

Ron McKinnon, the MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, who drafted the private member’s bill, said he’s confident the law will have an impact, especially as the opioid crisis leads to more deaths.

“It’s pretty obvious on its face that it will save lives,” he said. “We know there is a resistance in many cases to call for help when they’re in a situation of using drugs.”

McKinnon said police rarely if ever focused on charges when responding to overdoses, but fear still existed and he hopes the new law quells those concerns.

He also hopes there will be plenty of public information on the legislation so people become aware of the new protections.

“It’s incumbent on the various health agencies in the different regions in making this information available,” he said. “It’s very important people understand that it’s OK to call for help.”

Asked about the issue, Ottawa police said officers responding to overdoses focus on saving lives and they hope people won’t hesitate to call for help.

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