Queen’s Park — Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris will be joined by Opioid awareness advocate 19-year-old Leila Attar at Queens Park today in support of Bill 126, the Illegal Pill Press Act. The bill would enforce fines and imprisonment for anyone illegally possessing or using a pill press machine to produce counterfeit opioids.
Harris noted that Ms. Attar’s near-death experience from overdose on a fentanyl-laced Percocet pill earlier this year highlights the need to crack down on counterfeit opioid drugs in our streets, putting the safety of our communities, families and their children at risk.
“Until government joins with us to act on our call to ban pill presses churning out illegal opioids on our streets, we will continue to hear frightening and often tragic stories,” Harris said. “Unfortunately, for Leila and so many others in this province, the Wynne Liberals have dragged their feet on helping to crack down on the criminals who produce the counterfeit pills.”
Bill 126, to be debated this afternoon, is designed to combat the proliferation of illegal pills – often fentanyl-laced pills – made to look like more common street drugs. If passed, every person who is convicted is liable to:
(a) a first offence maximum fine of $200,000 or imprisonment up to six months;
(b) a second offence maximum fine of $350,000 or imprisonment up to one year;
(c) a third or subsequent offence maximum fine of $500,000 or imprisonment up to two years.
“Leila is one of many faced with the life-changing and often fatal impacts of dealers profiting from basement pill-presses producing counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills,” Harris said. “Unless you’re a pharmacist, or other authorized professional, there is absolutely no reason why you would need to have one of these killing machines – and if you do, my bill would ensure you’re going to jail.”
Harris noted that while the Liberals last week discounted his efforts as “sloganeering”, victims like Leila, their families and the police have called for action to remove pill presses from our streets.
Recognizing that there is no single solution that will eliminate the opioid crisis, Leila noted her support for Harris’ initiative indicating, “we have to chip away at all aspects of it,” in order to effect change.
Harris added, “If we can save just one life, if we can prevent the tragic outcomes faced by Leila and others like her, why wouldn’t we take that one simple step?”
With opioid overdoses now causing two deaths a day in Ontario Harris says he’s hopeful all parties support his Bill 126, The Illegal Pill Press Act, when it’s considered for second reading debate later this afternoon.