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Toronto Drug Strategy officials co-host community forum on new federal drug strategy

By Hempology | March 26, 2008

National Anti-Drug Strategy Community Forum, Toronto, Wednesday March 26th
by Press Release (25 Mar, 2008)

Toronto Drug Strategy officials co-host community forum on new federal drug strategy

Toronto Mayor David Miller will open a community forum on the federal government’s National Anti-Drug Strategy tomorrow, Wednesday March 26. The forum, co-hosted by the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel, is being held to give the community an opportunity to discuss implications of the new federal strategy. “The federal government developed this new drug strategy with no input from Canadians.” said Panel Co-Chair, Councillor Gord Perks. “We want to give the people of Toronto an opportunity to express their views about what is happening to drug policy in Canada.”

Perks notes some elements of the federal plan fit with Toronto’s Drug Strategy such as investing more resources in prevention and treatment. However, overall the National Anti-Drug Strategy is based on traditional, enforcement-driven approaches that have consistently failed in the past. The federal plan also ignores alcohol despite the fact that this legal drug creates far more health, social and economic harms than illicit drugs.

The elimination of harm reduction from the federal strategy is of particular concern to forum organizers. “Harm reduction represents a well researched range of strategies that have proven effective in preventing disease transmission, saving lives and reaching out to marginalized drug users. We use harm reduction because it works,” said David Collins, President of the Toronto Harm Reduction Task Force. “Removing harm reduction from the federal strategy is a dangerous step back to public policy based on moral judgment rather than scientific evidence, and is out of synch with most regional strategies.”

Panel speakers at the forum include Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, Joanne Dallaire, a First Nations Elder from the John Howard Society of Toronto, and Tara Lyons from Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Following the panel presentations, an “open mic” session will allow participants to share their views.

Community Forum on the National Anti-Drug Strategy

Do you think drug use is a health issue or a criminal justice issue? Do you want Canada to follow the U.S. style “War on Drugs?” Do you agree with the elimination of harm reduction? Come and discuss the implications of the National Anti-Drug Strategy.

Date: Wednesday March 26, 2008

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Location: Toronto City Hall, Council Chambers, 100 Queen Street West

Opening Remarks: Mayor David Miller

Moderator: Councillor Kyle Rae

Media contacts:
- Councillor Gord Perks, 416-392-7919
- Susan Sperling, Media Relations Coordinator, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974

This event is co-hosted by the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel, the Toronto Harm Reduction Task Force, and the Harm Reduction Action Group. For more information, contact Susan Sheppard (Manager, Toronto Drug Strategy Secretariat) at 416-338-0923.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

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