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New Brunswick says bill to force people into drug care shelved until after election

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative government says a bill to force treatment for drug users that was to be introduced this spring has now been shelved until after the fall election.

Sherry Wilson, minister responsible for addictions and mental health services, says the Compassionate Intervention Act will be brought forward if the Progressive Conservatives win re-election.

Wilson added that the government wanted to “take a deep dive, look at other jurisdictions and copy some of their successes,” and she cited Alberta as one of the places being studied.

Public Safety Minister Kris Austin has said the idea behind the bill is to get people with severe drug addiction into treatment, after consultations with family, medical professionals and police.

Critics have warned that the province’s proposal for forced treatment of drug users would be an infringement on people’s rights and freedoms.

Premier Blaine Higgs has not ruled out using the notwithstanding clause to shield the law from Charter challenges.

“We’re 100 per cent committed to this bill,” Wilson said Wednesday. “We are trying to look after people with substance use disorder. They’re very sick people. So in doing this, we want to make sure that we have everything lined up.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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