Ron McKinnon

Your member of parliament for

Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam

Ron McKinnon

Your member of parliament for

Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam


Frequently Asked Questions

Why this bill – what is your personal connection?

I’ve been involved in social justice issues for many years. I personally don’t know anyone that has overdosed on drugs. This is simply the right thing to do.
How did you come up with the idea for this bill?

It was luck of the draw – quite literally – I drew 8th place on the list of Private Member’s Business. MPs usually have years to think up ideas – I only had weeks. I came across research showing this was desperately needed in order to save lives.
Why now?

There is no better time than the present to start saving lives.
Why is this law necessary?

Too many people have died and continue to die because of drug overdoses. Many could have been saved if someone had called 911.

The biggest barrier to calling 911 in an overdose situation is the fear of arrest and prosecution for possession of drugs.

Now, only 46% of people would call 911 in the event of a drug overdose because of their fears of prosecution (Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, 2012).

In BC, nearly 200 young people died in a 5-year span because of delays in seeking medical help in a drug overdose situation.

In 2015, British Columbia recorded a total of 465 illicit drug overdose deaths (Globe and Mail, 2016).

In Ontario, fentanyl overdose deaths climbed 28% in 2014 to 173 with all opioid overdoses totaling 663 (Globe and Mail, 2016).

88 per cent of opiate users in Washington State, which passed a similar law in 2010, said they are more likely to call 911 because of their Good Samaritan Law (Kitchener Waterloo Record, 2012).

How will this bill save lives?

During overdoses, many people are afraid to call 911 for fear of getting charged with possession offences. This bill would prevent people who call emergency services to report a drug overdose from being charged for drug possession offences. C-224 does not apply to offences like trafficking or driving while impaired. It is a simple bill – inserting three paragraphs into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Why not go further and make it a criminal offence for NOT calling 911?

This bill is about saving lives by taking away criminal offences, not about creating new ones. We are encouraging people to do the right thing.
What are possession charges and penalties?

The penalties are relatively small and usually only a summary conviction. For a first offence, a fine of no more than $1000 and/or prison for no more than 6 months. For a subsequent offence, a fine of no more than $2000 and/or prison for no more than a year.
Who are your opponents to this bill?

Law and order conservatives who value penalties over lives. Is a life only worth $1000?
What are the chances that this bill will become law?

Good. I am #8 on the list of Private Member’s Business. The first 30 members on the list get first priority to get their bills through the House of Commons. This bill has been steadily gaining support among community stake holders and political parties.
This bill is a good first step, but how are people going to know that it is safe to call 911?

Public education is critical. Part of my communication plan surrounding this bill is to seek as much media attention as possible. People need to know it is OK to call for help.
Do police support this legislation?

Port Moody, BC Police Chief Constable Chris Rattenbury supports this bill.