Toronto has become the first city in the world to include harm reduction in its approach to drug use. At the very least this is a huge symbolic step forward for Canada (particularly since the regressive rulers in Ottawa are attempting failed Reagan-era dug policies) and for North America, since Toronto is the first government on the continent to endorse harm reduction.
The Vienna Declaration, which slams the criminalization of illicit drugs as a major factor fuelling HIV infection rates, came to the fore during this year’s AIDS conference. Its authors called on policy-makers around the world to refocus their approaches to illegal drugs and HIV-AIDS prevention – especially in light of new statistics that show HIV infection rates have climbed back to 1982 levels, largely thanks to infection in injection-drug users.
The declaration has thousands of prominent signatories – including doctors, epidemiologists and former heads of state, but few of the governments at whom it’s targeted. On Thursday, council passed a motion to endorse the declaration by a wide margin, 33 votes to 7.
If you’re in Toronto please vote for a mayoral candidate that supports caring about people so you can keep reading good things about your city.