Ontario does not want to be part of the “failed decriminalization experiment.”


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Ontario's health minister is warning Toronto to withdraw its federal government request to decriminalize drug possession.

After British Columbia abandoned its decriminalization pilot project, Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones issued a statement letter He warned Eileen de Villa, Toronto's chief medical officer, and urged her to drop her bid for decriminalization.

“Although our government has made it abundantly clear on several occasions, please consider this as formally as possible: Ontario is 100% opposed to your proposal,” the letter said.

“Under no circumstances will our government ever support your proposal as it would only lead to more crime and public drug use without supporting people struggling with addiction issues. We will also clearly express our opposition to the federal government.”

Jones began reviewing existing drug consumption sites after a deadly shooting outside an establishment in Toronto's Leslieville neighborhood and now plans to introduce “enhanced accountability measures” to “ensure the safety and well-being of the public is protected.”

In the letter, which was also signed by the province's attorney general Micheal Kerzner, Jones de Villa said the Ontario government “will be forced to explore all options available to us if it does not withdraw the application.”

Kerzner said the letter was a response to Toronto Public Health, claiming it had received no “formal” communication of opposition to Toronto's “misguided call to decriminalize dangerous illegal drugs.”

Toronto's initial proposal was submitted to Health Canada two years ago and updated in March of this year.

Prime Minister Doug Ford and Michael Tibollo, his deputy minister for mental health and addictions, recently voiced strong opposition to it after BC asked Ottawa to lift its exemption.

The federal government agreed to withdraw the exemption for drug use in public spaces, just a year into the pilot project's planned three-year period.

“We are frankly surprised that Toronto Public Health has not already withdrawn its application following British Columbia’s decision to withdraw its decriminalization experiment,” the Ontario ministers’ letter said.

“The recent disastrous examples from British Columbia and other jurisdictions that have tried this experiment are just the latest examples showing that decriminalization does not work. Instead, it encourages dangerous behavior in public spaces, victimizes innocent people and undermines the ability of law enforcement to protect our communities.”

Ottawa agreed to B.C.'s request to roll back parts of its decriminalization project last week, just 15 months into the three-year pilot, after opposition from mayors and hospital staff.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre announced his party's plan on Wednesday to pass the Safe Hospitals Act to protect staff and patients from harm caused by illegal drug use in hospitals.

The bill aims to protect doctors, nurses and patients from violence and abuse. In British Columbia, for example, the provincial nurses' union reported open drug and gun use in hospitals.

The bill would create an aggravating factor in sentencing anyone who brings an illegal and unlicensed weapon into a hospital.

“Enough is enough,” Poilevre told reporters in B.C. “Common sense conservatives will not allow this devastation and experiment to play out in other Canadian communities. “Canadians deserve a government that keeps hard drugs out of hospitals and protects staff and patients.”