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Federal English-language leaders debate ignores opioid crisis

Straight 2019-10-08 11:04:46

The opioid crisis is causing grief for families apart across the country.

Nearly 13,000 Canadians died as a result of apparent illicit-drug overdoses between January 2016 and March 2019, according to the Public Health Agency.

Statistics Canada has reported that the number of overdose deaths has even stalled the growth in the average life expectancy of Canadians.


The number of overdose deaths in recent years vastly exceeded the number of motor-vehicle deaths, which reached 1,898 in 2016.

It's still far short of the more than 33,000 people who die in Canada each year from heart disease. But illicit-drug overdoses are killing people who, on average, are far younger.

Tonight, six party leaders on-stage debated a wide range of issues.

But the opioid crisis, which is killing thousands, didn't merit any discussion.

Other topics took centre-stage. They included foreign policy, equalization payments, climate change, immigration, SNC-Lavalin, taxes, pharmacare, deficits, and pipelines, to mention a few.

It's not surprising that the consquences of addiction—and possible policy responses—aren't drawing a great deal of attention from the public, the media, or the political leaders in this election campaign.

It's simply a reflection of the middle-class and upper-middle-class orientation of Canadian politics.

For the most part, middle-class and upper-middle-class people are those who vote, cover elections, and run as candidates.

None of the leaders on the stage tonight talked about creating a safe drug supply to reduce the carnage. Nor did the journalists. Nor did the earnest members of the public who gathered in venues across the country to ask questions on TV.

It simply wasn't a priority.