Mamidosewin (meeting place, walking together)

Open Caucus

In the spring of 2014, the Senate Liberals (now the Progressives) began our Open Caucus initiative. The goal of these meetings was to foster nonpartisan discussion on issues facing our country. We invited all parliamentarians as well as the public to take part in the discussions with a panel of experts on any given topic, and focused on informing ourselves and others on matters that are important to Canadians.


Open Caucus Themes

  • February 20, 2019 – The Opioid Crisis in Canada

    The Open Caucus, a forum for discussion on issues of national importance, was first established in 2014 when Senate Liberals opened their Caucus doors to the public on Wednesday mornings. The Open Caucus is now co-sponsored by the Independent Senate Liberals, the Independent Senators Group, and the Office of the Government Representative in the Senate. This non-partisan collaboration now brings together three groups representing the majority of the Senate’s current membership.

    The discussion is open to all Members of Parliament, Senators, parliamentary staff, media, and the public.

    As Canadians remain the second-highest per capita users of opioids in the world, an in-depth and informed national conversation needs to be undertaken into how this was allowed to intensify throughout the country over the past several years.

    Moreover, there has been a rapid increase in the overdoses and deaths caused by opioids, especially from highly-concentrated forms such as fentanyl. The rate of hospitalizations has increased by 27% over the past 5 years, with an average of 11 deaths per day in 2017.

    Research suggests that the use and misuse of opioids is a complex health and social issue that requires further investigation. In light of this crisis, we ask experts: What factors are contributing to the use, misuse, dependence and/or addiction caused by opioids? What measures can be taken to mitigate the risk of harm caused by opioids?

    The panelists were:

    • Dr. Sheri Fandrey: Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy, University of Manitoba
    • Dr. John Weekes: Director, Research and Academics, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
    • Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull: Medical Director, Ottawa Inner City Health, Chief of Staff, The Ottawa Hospital
    • Dr. Caroline Hosatte-Ducassy:  Emergency Medicine Resident, McGill University
    • Dr. Esther Tailfeathers: Medical Lead for the Population and Public, Indigenous Strategic Care Network

    The meeting took place:

    Wednesday, February 20, 2019
    8:00am – 10:00am
    Room W110, 1 Wellington Street

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    The Progressives