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Rampant drug use has made hospitals unsafe for Canadians. This was the message Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre bore when announced his party’s plan to pass the Safe Hospitals Act to protect staff and patients from harm caused by illicit drug use inside of hospitals.

The proposed bill aims to protect doctors, nurses and patients from violence and abuse. For example in British Columbia, the province’s nursing union reported open drug use and weapons within hospitals.

The act would create an aggravating factor for sentencing anyone who brings an illegal and unauthorized weapon into a hospital. 

“Imagine you’ve just given birth to a newborn,” said Poilievre in his opening remarks to reporters in B.C. on Tuesday. “And instead of enjoying this precious once in a lifetime moment, you smell hard drugs in the air. Crack or meth being smoked just a few hospital rooms over.”

“Imagine you’ve been in a car accident. You’re fighting for your life and someone in the bed next to you lights up a crack pipe. You look down and see that that person has a large machete in their bag. You tell the nurse or the doctor and they say, ‘Sorry, it’s allowed now and we’ve been forbidden from touching or taking away these weapons and drugs. So you’re just going to have to hope this person doesn’t harm you.’”

Polievre was referencing incidents in B.C. hospitals reported by the province’s nursing union.  

Members of the union have even reported being unable to breastfeed their kids after having inhaled crack smoke, which they feared may harm their child through toxins in their breastmilk. 

The Safe Hospitals Act would take away the federal health minister’s discretion under the Controlled Substances and Health Act to decriminalize illicit drugs like meth, fentanyl and crack from being brought into hospitals. 

This would prevent future exemptions from being granted to cities like Toronto or Montreal to decriminalize these as B.C. was given last year.

“At least hospitals will be protected,” said Poilievre. 

B.C. recently had to walk back its exemption after too many dangerous incidents, a little over a year into the province’s pilot project. The provincial government requested the federal government recriminalize the use of illicit drugs in public spaces last week. 

Under the pilot project, crack, fentanyl and heroin were permitted to be used in parks, hospitals and on public transit, as well as permitting people to carry weapons inside hospitals.

“They continue to give out tax-funded opioids, provided by the same companies that caused the crisis in the first place, who continue to profit off the misery and the results are in,” said Poilievre. “There is an increase of 380% in drug overdose deaths under these NDP-Liberal policies.”

“This radical, ideological approach is killing our people.” 

Community spaces in B.C. have been devastated by the rippling effects of public use of illicit drugs, including the Abbotsford Soccer Association, which now has to comb through its field before games to ensure no dirty needles are embedded in the grass. 

Numerous pets of British Columbians have also had overdoses from sniffing dangerous drug remnants left on park grounds. 

Despite this, the Trudeau government is currently considering granting the same illicit drug exemption that B.C. just asked to be reversed to the City of Toronto. 

“Enough is enough,” said Poilevre. “Common sense Conservatives will not allow this devastation and experiment to play out in other Canadian communities. Canadians deserve a government that will keep hard drugs out of hospitals and will protect staff and patients.” 

Poilievre also announced his desire to pass Conservative MP Todd Doherty’s Bill C-321 which would add an aggravating factor to assaults committed against healthcare workers and first responders.

“In other words, if you attack a nurse, a paramedic or a doctor, you will go to jail for longer,” said Poilievre.

While fielding questions, a reporter asked how Poilievre would deal with pushback from provinces, should they feel the act violated their provincial jurisdiction. 

“They might, the NDP and Trudeau are equally radical on these questions but I’d leave it up to British Columbians,” responded Poilievre. “Do British Columbians believe that someone should be allowed to smoke crack, meth and bring machetes into hospitals right next to patients who are trying to recover from cancer or a heart attack.”

“Or do they believe in my common sense approach that would ban the drugs, stop giving out tax-funded opioids and invest in treatment and recovery to bring our loved ones home, drug-free.”

The Safe Hospitals Act would not criminalize any drug prescribed by a medical professional.