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March 25, 2008
Toronto Drug Strategy officials co-host community forum on new federal drug strategy
Mayor David Miller will open a community forum on the federal government’s National Anti-Drug Strategy tomorrow, Wednesday March 26. The forum, co-hosted by the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel, is being held to give the community an opportunity to discuss implications of the new federal strategy.

“The federal government developed this new drug strategy with no input from Canadians,” said Panel Co-Chair, Councillor Gord Perks. “We want to give the people of Toronto an opportunity to express their views about what is happening to drug policy in Canada.”

Perks notes some elements of the federal plan fit with Toronto’s Drug Strategy, such as investing more resources in prevention and treatment. However, overall, the National Anti-Drug Strategy is based on traditional, enforcement-driven approaches that have consistently failed in the past. The federal plan also ignores alcohol despite the fact that this legal drug creates far more health, social and economic harms than illicit drugs.

The elimination of harm reduction from the federal strategy is of particular concern to forum organizers. “Harm reduction represents a well researched range of strategies that have proven effective in preventing disease transmission, saving lives and reaching out to marginalized drug users. We use harm reduction because it works,” said David Collins, President of the Toronto Harm Reduction Task Force. “Removing harm reduction from the federal strategy is a dangerous step back to public policy based on moral judgment rather than scientific evidence, and is out of sync with most regional strategies.”

Panel speakers at the forum include: Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy; Joanne Dallaire, a First Nations Elder from the John Howard Society of Toronto; and Tara Lyons from Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Following the panel presentations, an “open mic” session will allow participants to share their views.

Community Forum on the National Anti-Drug Strategy

Date: Wednesday March 26
Time: 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Council Chamber, City Hall, 100 Queen St. W.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Councillor Gord Perks, Co-Chair, Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel, 416-392-7919,
Susan Sperling, Media Relations Co-ordinator, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974,



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