With nearly 1,000 signatures in just over one week, Courtenay parents John and Jennifer Hedican are hoping a petition will push for change for the country’s opioid overdose crisis.
Nearly one year ago, the Hedicans lost their son Ryan following a lengthy battle of addiction due to fentanyl poisoning.
They have since been sharing their story with politicians and the public in an effort to destigmatize and raise awareness about substance use and to push for changes to policy and treatment.
Through Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, the Hedicans connected to Shanyn Simcoe, a registered nurse who is also working on the overdose issue. They created a petition which calls for the declaration of the overdose crisis as a National Public Health Emergency, to reform current drug policy to decriminalize personal possession and the creation of a system to provide safe substances.
“This is a national crisis and we want our federal government to make changes for all Canadians,” the Hedicans wrote in an email.
“We are hoping that national attention to this issue will demonstrate just how pervasive substance use is and how we have to support those who use, rather than letting them die.”
The declaration of a National Public Health Emergency invokes the Emergency Act, and allows the establishment of emergency shelters, hospitals and payment.
Any petition with more than 500 signatures is certified, presented in the House of Commons and must receive an official response from the government.
The Hedicans are hoping to obtain 50,000 signatures by the petition closing date of July 25.
“I am honoured to stand with the Hedican family and urge Canadians to sign their petition which calls on the government to address this public health emergency by decriminalizing possession and removing the stigma for users,” Johns said in a release. “If adopted, this will provide a safe, clean drug source for users in the same way that we do for alcohol and soon, marijuana.”
The Hedicans will also be participating in a info night at Mark R. Isfeld on April 18 at 7 p.m, which will cover a range of topics around substance abuse, and are already planning another Overdose Awareness Event in Courtenay on Aug. 31.
To sign the e-petition, visit https://bit.ly/2HcY8Sc. A printed version of the petition can be downloaded at: gordjohns.ca