Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press Minister Lionel Carmant tabled a bill on Thursday to allow his government to join a collective action in this direction launched by British Columbia.
Quebec wants to prosecute around forty pharmaceutical companies for their contribution to the opioid crisis. Minister Lionel Carmant tabled a bill on Thursday to allow his government to join a collective action to this effect launched by British Columbia.
Bill 36 “on the recovery of cost of health care and opioid-related damages” is inspired by a series of laws adopted in recent years by Canadian provinces and territories.
Once adopted, it will allow Quebec to participate in the collective action initiated in 2018 by the British Columbia government to recover the sums lost in the fight against the harmful effects of these products. Among the defendants, big names in the pharmaceutical industry such as Jean Coutu, Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma.
Quebec criticizes manufacturers, distributors and their advisors for having minimized over the years the effect of opioids on the health of Quebecers. “Drugs that were intended for the treatment of acute and severe pain were used for common pain such as back pain, for example,” indicated the Minister responsible for Social Services, Lionel Carmant, at a press conference on Thursday. /p>
By tabling this bill, he intends to “make the industry take responsibility for its actions” and “make these companies accountable”. “This is a public health crisis. It’s destroying lives, and I think it’s important for us to act,” he said moments after tabling his legislation.
The minister was not able to quantify Quebec's potential gains in damages on Thursday. “It’s safe to say billions. Of how many ? It will be determined later,” said the director general of litigation for the Attorney General of Quebec, Frédéric Maheux, who accompanied Mr. Carmant on Thursday.
Until now, only Quebec, Yukon and Nunavut had not joined the British-Columbian collective action against the opioid industry. Civil law requires it to table a bill to participate as a province in a collective action.
Hundreds of victims
The The National Institute of Public Health of Quebec has recorded more than 500 deaths linked to “suspected intoxication with opioids or other drugs” in 2022. In the first six months of 2023, it recorded more than 200.
“There is no doubt that this crisis has now arrived here,” said Minister Carmant on Thursday. “We are talking about hundreds of deaths, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, which have caused and continue to cause a real burden on our network. »
Asked Thursday about the possibility of decriminalization of simple possession of drugs, a solution to the crisis recommended by Montreal Public Health, in particular, Mr. Carmant once again closed the door. “We’re not there yet in government,” he said.