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Canadian Public Health Association

Policy and position statements


2017

Jordan's Principle and Public Health

November 6, 2017

The Canadian Public Health Association supports Jordan’s Principle, and calls on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to fully implement the Principle and address inter-jurisdictional disputes related to the provision of health and social services and/or supports to First Nations’ children. Jordan’s Principle is an approach to resolving disputes related to the provision of public services (including health) to all First Nations children living on- or offreserve. The principle provides a child-first approach to meeting the needs of First Nations children in a culturally appropriate and efficient way (within 48 hours); it requires that the government of initial contact with a child fund the health care and social services needs without delay or disruption of services. Any funding disputes among government organizations are to be resolved later through a jurisdictional dispute resolution mechanism.

Decriminalization of Personal Use of Psychoactive Substances

November 6, 2017

The use of illegal psychoactive substances in Canada persists despite ongoing efforts to limit their consumption. Criminalization of those who use these substances remains the principal tool to control their use and is unsuccessful. An alternative approach – a public health approach – is required. Such an approach is being used to  manage the ongoing opioid crisis through amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and other related acts, including renewal of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy. The amendments provided a simplified approach for obtaining permission to establish supervised consumption facilities while the Strategy renewal reintroduced harm reduction as a pillar. Similarly, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides an exemption from charges for simple possession of a controlled substance, as well as charges concerning pre-trial release, probation orders, conditional sentences and parole violations related to simple possession for people who call emergency services or are on scene when help arrives for those suffering from overdose. The Canadian Public Health Association  encourages provinces, territories and municipalities to implement similar measures in their jurisdictions. Furthermore, the Association recognizes and supports the right of Indigenous communities to respond to psychoactive substance use according to their traditional justice and/or cultural protocols. A public health approach is also being promoted for the legalization and regulation of cannabis and its related products in Canada. The Canadian Public Health Association commends the Government of Canada for taking these actions and urges the continued expansion of this public health approach to manage all psychoactive substances that are currently illegal, as described in Managing Illegal Psychoactive Substances in Canada, a 2014 Discussion Paper. Central to this action is a reduction of the legal barriers which cause harm to individuals who use drugs. Such an approach could be similar to that currently in use in Portugal, as described in Appendix One.

A Public Health Approach to the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Cannabis

November 6, 2017

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, will legalize and regulate access to cannabis in Canada. The intent of the legislation and regulation is to provide a public health framework that should reduce the likelihood of negative health outcomes and the potential effects resulting from criminalization. Bill C-45 also proposes changes to the impaired driving laws with the purpose of more severely punishing those who drive while under the influence of drugs, including cannabis. Furthermore, the 2017 Federal Budget provided funding to support public education programs and surveillance activities related to cannabis use. The Canadian Public Health Association commends the federal government for this important step in developing a public health approach to addressing cannabis use in Canada. The Association also recognizes that additional steps are required to develop and implement a public health perspective.

Poverty Reduction Strategy Consultation Response

August 25, 2017

The Canadian Public Health Association submitted a response to the Government of Canada's Consultation on the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.

A Brief Regarding Bill C-45

August 15, 2017

The Canadian Public Health Association presented a description of the issues that should be addressed in any cannabis legislation and regulations if a public health approach is to be achieved. Many of the provisions contained in the draft legislation resonate with our proposals. As such, we commend the federal government for this important step in developing a public health approach to addressing cannabis use in Canada. 

Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for Canada

June 23, 2017

CPHA has endorsed the Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for Canada which represent a public health approach to reduce the health risks and burden of disease associated with cannabis use. The Guidelines are part of a research study conducted by an international team of experts that is published in the June 2017 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

2016

The Opioid Crisis in Canada

December 13, 2016

There is an expanding opioid crisis in Canada that is resulting in epidemic-like numbers of overdose deaths. These deaths are the result of an interaction between prescribed, diverted and illegal opioids (such as fentanyl) and the recent entry into the illegal drug market of newer, more powerful synthetic opioids. The current approaches to managing this situation – focused on changing prescribing practices and interrupting the flow of drugs – have failed to reduce the death toll and should be supplemented with an enhanced and comprehensive public health approach. Such an approach would include the meaningful involvement of people with lived experience.

Early Childhood Education and Care

June 1, 2016

Early childhood education and care plays an important part in healthy childhood development and provides valuable support to families with young children. Canada, however, does not have a pan-Canadian approach to ECEC and CPHA calls on the Federal government to work with provinces and territories to establish a pan-Canadian early childhood education and care strategy.

Medical Assistance in Dying

April 1, 2016

As a result of the 2015 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada (Carter v. Canada), the Government of Canada has developed legislation regarding medical assistance in dying. CPHA recognizes that this legislation will provide additional options for those suffering with terminal illness, but underscores the need that such decisions be based on the best available medical information for each case, and the moral and ethical concerns of both the person requesting assistance and the health professional(s) providing the service.

2015

Discussion Paper on the Ecological Determinants of Health

May 1, 2015

The future of life on Earth cannot be taken for granted as our species has the capacity to influence that future – for good or ill. This paper is not the definitive word on the topic of the ecological determinants of health. Its goal is to begin a conversation, stimulate debate and ultimately motivate the public health community to action.