CHARLOTTETOWN, Aug. 6, 2019 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is taking action to keep our roads safe from drug-impaired drivers. Too many Canadians still do not understand the risks of driving after consuming cannabis. Many individuals continue to drive while impaired, and many more have been a passenger in a vehicle with a driver who had consumed cannabis. While drug-impaired driving has been illegal in Canada since 1925, many impaired drivers continue to put their own safety, and the safety of others, at risk.
Today, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, on behalf of the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, the Honourable Bill Blair, announced $2.5 million over five years to Prince Edward Island to support law enforcement by increasing the number of frontline police officers trained in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluation; purchasing approved drug screening devices; and, establishing dedicated trainers to deliver new and refresher training.
Funding will also be used to develop standardized data collection and reporting practices that will be used to analyze trends, identify gaps and provide an accurate picture of drug-impaired driving in the province, and across Canada. The funding is part of the $81 million announced by the Government of Canada for provinces and territories to support public and road safety activities.
"We want Canadians to understand the dangers and consequences of driving while impaired by alcohol and drugs, including cannabis. Stronger penalties and law enforcement alone can't resolve the problem; public education and awareness are important pieces of making it socially unacceptable. Today's investment ensures that frontline police officers have the tools they need to detect drug-impaired drivers to keep our roads safe."
- The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction
"Our law enforcement does incredible work each and every day to keep our Island safe. Every injury or death from drug-impaired driving is preventable, and the devastating impacts affect our entire community. I'm happy to see this investment today as Canadians need to understand, when you consume cannabis, regardless of the method of consumption, you cannot - and should not - drive."
- The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"The law enforcement agencies on the Island do an incredible job to keep our communities safe. With the legalization of cannabis, it is critical that law enforcement be empowered with appropriate training and tools to assure everyone's safety. The Government of Prince Edward Island has worked diligently to provide education to Islanders on cannabis use and its many associated risks, particularly for drug-impaired driving. This funding to support our policing agencies will help ensure Prince Edward Island remains one of the safest places in Canada."
- The Honourable Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Justice and Public Safety
- There are over 14,400 trained SFST officers across Canada (November 2018) and 1,115 certified DREs (August 1, 2019).
- For this agreement, Prince Edward Island has established a training objective of 45 officers trained in SFST for 2018-2019 and up to 133 officers over five years, to bring the capacity to 89 per cent of frontline officers.
- The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada approved a second oral fluid drug screening device on July 10, 2019. This new equipment is another tool at the disposal of law enforcement, but it is not required to investigate drug-impaired driving.
- Public Safety Canada introduced its second Don't Drive High public awareness advertisement in April 2019. The campaign will continue to engage young Canadians and leverage partnerships with other levels of governments and organizations that are working toward the same goal to eliminate drug-impaired driving on Canadian roads.
- Overall, 15 per cent of cannabis users with a valid driver's license reported driving within two hours of consuming cannabis, according to combined data from the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. This was unchanged from the first half of 2018.
- Cannabis in Canada
- Government of Canada's support to provinces and territories, law enforcement, research and public education to detect and deter drug-impaired drivers
- Public opinion research on drug impaired driving
- Impaired Driving Laws
SOURCE Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada
For further information: Kevin Lemkay, Communications Advisor, Office of the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, [email protected]; Media Relations, Public Safety Canada, 613-991-0657, [email protected]