CASW Celebrates Repealing of Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offences
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - November 18, 2022 – After a decade of advocating, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) today celebrates the passing of Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act that repeals mandatory minimum sentencing for certain drug offences.
“Since their expansion in 2012, mandatory minimum sentences have served to deepen the opioid crisis while contributing to the near doubling of federally incarcerated Indigenous people in Canada” notes CASW President, Joan Davis-Whelan.
Mandatory minimum sentencing has produced little evidence of reducing crime, preventing recidivism, or strengthening individual or community wellbeing. In fact, they infringe on the rights of all Canadians under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The introduction of mandatory minimums for drug offences went against all credible evidence 10 years ago, but thankfully we are now moving toward an evidenced based, public health approach, which has taken over from the so-called 'crime and punishment' approach -- an approach that has woefully failed to solve our nation’s most challenging health, economic and social issues," notes Davis-Whelan.
Social workers across Canada are working determinedly to address the ongoing and devastating opioid crisis, often impeded by the continued criminalization of substance use throughout Canada.
“Requiring police and prosecutors to consider taking no action or recommending diversion instead of charging or prosecuting simple drug possession offences is a strong step in addressing the devastating impact of the opioid crisis” notes Davis-Whelan. “The next step to saving lives and addressing systemic racism in Canada is to decriminalize the personal use of all drugs and we look forward to supporting the Government of Canada in making this its next public health priority.”
For further information:
Fred Phelps, Executive Director