Canada's NDP

Skip to main content

November 15th, 2018

Jagmeet Singh urges Liberals to Explore Criminal Charges in Opioid Crisis

BURNABY – On Thursday, as the opioid crisis claims more and more lives every day, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on the Liberal government to launch an investigation into the role drug companies may have played in fueling the opioid crisis and to seek meaningful restitution for the public costs of this crisis.

“In almost every community across Canada there are mothers like Leslie who’ve lost a child to this epidemic,” said Singh. “The federal government should have declared this a public health emergency a long time ago and must ensure those responsible are held accountable. The Liberal government should explore whether there are grounds to lay criminal charges against opioid pharmaceutical companies.”

Singh was joined by Leslie McBain who lost her son to a prescription drug overdose in 2014 and later co-founded the group Moms Stop The Harm. "I hold the pharmaceutical company in large part responsible for my son's death,” said McBain, who is also the Family Engagement Lead at the BC Center on Substance Use in Vancouver. “Our family doctor bought the marketing line from the company and prescribed ever increasing doses of Oxycodone for Jordan's minor back injury. Eventually Jordan had to find the drugs elsewhere, and fatally overdosed.”

This summer, the NDP government of British Columbia filed a civil lawsuit against drug companies to recoup the enormous costs it has incurred addressing the opioid crisis. The United States government has secured criminal pleas and over $600 million in damages from opioid manufacturers for misbranding offences in that country. Yet the federal Liberals have not taken any steps to investigate potential violations of Canadian law or pursue civil damages.

“There are real concerns that opioid manufacturers may have marketed these highly addictive drugs to Canadians and doctors in a manner inconsistent with federal law,” added NDP Health Critic, Don Davies. “Ten Canadians die every day from opioid-related causes. We need to treat this as the health crisis it is and at the same time seek justice for all affected.”