British Columbia: Months before British Columbia scaled back its drug decriminalization pilot, federal polling showed most Canadians believed decriminalization would increase overdoses. The survey, conducted by the Privy Council Office, revealed a split opinion on community safety and decriminalization. Some, like UBC professor Thomas Kerr, argue that fears of increased drug use due to decriminalization are unfounded.

The B.C. government recently asked to re-empower police to arrest individuals using drugs in public, following concerns over public drug use. The federal Conservatives criticized the decriminalization policy, with Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre calling it the legalization of hard drugs.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Ya’ara Saks defended the pilot, citing the toxic drug supply as the real issue. She rejected Toronto’s application for a similar program due to concerns over drug quantity limits and age restrictions.

The federal survey, published last fall, showed 49% of Canadians prefer health and social services for addressing drug use, while 35% see a role for police. Opinions varied by gender, income, and background, with men and lower-income earners more likely to support police involvement. The survey found 51% of respondents believed decriminalization would increase overdose risks.

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