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About the CFMS
The CFMS is an organization representing over 8,000 medical students from 15 Canadian medical student societies from coast to coast. We represent medical students to the public, to the federal government, and to national and international medical organizations.
PRESS RELEASE: CFMS National Day of Action 2022 - Decriminalization of Opioids
November 06, 2022

OTTAWA, ON – The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is proud to announce the annual National Day of Action (NDoA) 2022. This will be a hybrid event bringing together medical students from across the country to advocate for the Decriminalization of Opioids from November 12-14th, 2022. Every year, Canadian medical students convene in Ottawa, Ontario to meet with Members of Parliament and Senators on Parliament Hill. Given that healthcare jurisdiction falls to provincial governments, delegates will also meet with provincial Members of the Legislative Assembly/Members of Provincial Parliament. This multi-pronged approach will allow students to tackle the topic of decriminalization from multiple angles.

The opioid crisis in Canada is a leading public health and safety concern. Between July 2016 and January 2021, the Government of Canada reported approximately 24,626 deaths from opioid overdoses, with 90% of these occurring from the use of non-pharmaceutical opioids. Current projections postulate an increase in the number of opioid-related deaths to anywhere between 6400-6800 by 2022, with these deaths disproportionately represented within marginalized communities, and within rural and Northern communities. These statistics are only the tip of the iceberg for this significant issue, and demonstrate that current interventions are insufficient at addressing this crisis. 

Indeed, in Canada, drug possession can result in punitive outcomes, ranging from fines to a seven-year prison sentence under the Controlled Substances and Drugs Act. While there have been advances to this Act (see the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act), this policy has failed to curb the availability and use of illicit drugs, and to control the occurrence of opioid-related emergencies. Scientific evidence concludes that substance and drug use are medical challenges, and not voluntary choices by individuals. However, Canadian law has continuously discredited this notion through the implementation of the CDSA and other similar policies. 

The CFMS proposes key asks to the Federal Government in order to begin decriminalizing opioids. It is the hope of the CFMS that this work serves as a springboard for the decriminalization of all substances within Canada, such that we are able to work in a system where individuals who use drugs are able to access medical care and supportive social services, without the fear of facing prosecution.


Amna Majeed

Director of Government Affairs

Canadian Federation of Medical Students

[email protected] 

Montana Hackett


Canadian Federation of Medical Students

[email protected]  

Emily Macphail

Vice President of Communications 

Canadian Federation of Medical Students

[email protected]

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