Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


#DecriminalizeNow campaign

The criminalization of simple drug possession in cities across Ontario is costing lives. That’s why RNAO is launching a new campaign called #DecriminalizeNow.

On Oct. 3, RNAO will send a letter to mayoral candidates in 21 municipalities asking them to sign a pledge to support decriminalizing simple drug possession in Canada ahead of the Oct. 24 municipal elections. 

Accidental opioid-related overdose has been a growing public health crisis for more than two decades. The crisis escalated dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, preliminary data from Public Health Ontario showed that 2,880 people died in Ontario from an opioid-related overdose – an 85 per cent increase over pre-pandemic levels. All of these deaths could have been prevented. 

Decriminalizing simple possession of drugs is an effective way of preventing overdose deaths. Continued criminalization of drug possession stigmatizes substance use and people who use certain substances. This stigma creates barriers to health care and forces people to use alone – factors that increase the risk of death from overdose. 

For more information on the overdose crisis and RNAO’s recommendations to the government, read the fact sheet.

For more details on how to get involved, visit the #DecriminalizeNow campaign pageIn the meantime, tag @RNAO and use #DecriminalizeNow and #OverdoseCrisis in your tweets to join the conversation.

Last Updated: