Decriminalization of hard drugs will not occur in Ontario, and is unlikely to happen again anytime soon in Canada.

On the Friday of the Victoria Day long weekend, federal Addictions Minister Ya’ara Saks denied Toronto Public Health’s application for decriminalization.

The denial came only two days after Ontario Minister of Health Sylvia Jones released a letter she sent to the City of Toronto on May 15, publicly stating the provincial government’s opposition to the City of Toronto’s request to the federal government for drug decriminalization.

“Ontario is 100 per cent opposed,” writes Jones. “Under no circumstances will our government ever support your request.”

Jones cites British Columbia’s recent decision to end its decriminalization pilot. (The federal government quickly agreed to end the pilot.)

Decriminalization is being cited as a cause of increased disorder in British Columbia.

“If Toronto Public Health fails to rescind its misguided application, we will be forced to explore all options available to us,” Jones’ concludes the letter.

The goal of decriminalization is to prevent overdose deaths and better connect those using hard drugs with supports and pathways to treatment.

The Toronto Star ran a story explaining why decriminalization did not succeed in B.C.

Premier Doug Ford stated on May 24, “As long as I’m premier, we’re never going to decriminalize hard-core drugs.

Former Mayor Fred Eisenberger Gain Unanimous Council Support for Decriminalization

In August 2022, last term’s Hamilton City Council voted unanimously to pursue decriminalization.

The City has yet to complete the application to the federal government for decriminalization.

The City of Hamilton remains partially shut down, three months into a cybersecurity failure. It is not known when the application will be sent.

In light of Toronto’s application being denied, the Hamilton application will likely have the same fate – denial.

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Published: May 25, 2024
Last updated: May 25, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
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