Cancel Council’s irresponsible request to decriminalize drugs in Toronto for youth and adults

“Decriminalizing drugs is giving up on those who need help most. I will focus on addressing the root causes of the addictions crisis.” - Mark Saunders

Toronto – Mark Saunders is immediately calling on Council to cancel their request to the federal government to decriminalize drugs for personal use for both adults and youth in the City of Toronto.

As a police officer for almost four decades, Saunders had a front row seat to the carnage caused by illicit drugs. Heroin, crack cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamines, crystal meth, fentanyl – the list is extensive and growing as new drugs are showing up on streets, including Tranq.

For years, City Hall has failed to do anything about the safety impacts that supervised injection sites have on residents, families and businesses who live, play and work near them. In fact, some of their status quo policies have hurt, more than helped, those struggling with addiction, and the communities most impacted.

As Mayor, Saunders will put in place a compassionate plan to make the number of overdose deaths go down, not up and up and up as the city has seen for years. His plan will help those struggling with addiction by:

  • Revisiting the Toronto Overdose Action Plan to focus more on treatment as a key priority for the City’s response, as opposed to continuing to expand the facilitation of drug use.
  • Establishing a formal working group with key service providers and experts to understand how to best lead drug users to treatment, as opposed to continuing a cycle of addiction.
  • Working closely with the province to identify and explore the creation of additional in-patient treatment options and resources that are urgently needed for users of supervised injection sites.
  • Working with the federal and provincial governments to right-size the available treatment beds and resources to reflect the state of urgency in the City of Toronto; right now, mental health and addiction funding is not keeping pace with the share of healthcare resources that are used for treatment.

“We can’t normalize illicit drug use - especially for youth aged 12 - 17. As a police officer, I’ve seen how the lives of those suffering from addiction and their loved ones have been destroyed by pain, loss and grief,” said Saunders. “Enough is enough. As Mayor, my plan will ensure those who are struggling with addiction get the compassionate help they need.”

In the coming weeks, Saunders will announce more details of his integrated plan to protect Toronto’s future, including a mental health plan that will complement other parts of his platform.

As a former police chief, Mark Saunders knows what needs to be done to make Toronto safe again.

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