We know that substance use is a public health matter – not a criminal justice one. This week, Minister for Mental Health and Addictions, Shelia Malcolmson, announced that Health Canada has approved British Columbia’s application to decriminalize people who use drugs – this is a critical step in our fight against the toxic drug crisis. B.C. is the first province in Canada to decriminalize drugs. Decriminalization will break down the barriers that prevent people from getting support to life-saving services. Reducing the stigma of drug use is a vital part of B.C.’s work to build a comprehensive system of mental health and substance use care. Decriminalization will become effective January 31st, 2023 and we will work with our partners to make sure police are trained and our health authorities are prepared for this important change.