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Jagmeet Singh Says Drug Addiction Isn’t a Criminal Problem—It’s a Social One

The new NDP leader says the federal government isn’t doing enough to solve the opioid crisis.

After visiting an overdose prevention site in Vancouver, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said it broke his heart to see with his "own eyes the devastation of the opioid crisis."

Singh was speaking to thousands at the British Columbia NDP convention on Saturday, the Toronto Star reports. There, he talked about how Canada's drug policies need to focus on addiction as a social issue, not a criminal justice one.


"I saw that people's lives are being destroyed while the federal government does little or nothing, and it breaks my heart," he said.

BC is one of the provinces in Canada most affected by the opioid crisis, where over 1,000 people have died from drug overdoses so far this year.

"To me poverty, mental health, and addictions don't sound like criminal justice problems," Singh said. "They sound to me like a social justice problem."

Singh also called on the federal government to declare a public health emergency over the current opioid crisis. (President Donald Trump declared one in the US in October over the crisis.)

Previously, Singh has spoken about how he supports decriminalization of all personal drug possession offences in Canada, which he called for over the weekend as well.

Singh was elected as NDP leader in October.

"We are the party that hears the stories of people, the struggles," he said. "We must again be the party that inspires Canadians, that makes their hearts beat faster."