Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns wants the federal government to provide additional funding and help improve access for dedicated mental health services.

It’s part of his list of priorities for the 44th Parliament.

Johns and the NDP are also calling for the Trudeau government to declare a public health emergency in response to the opioid toxicity epidemic.

“There have been almost 8,000 deaths due to opioid toxicity since the beginning of COVID-19, an 88 per cent increase over the same time period prior to the pandemic,” said Johns. “I believe the federal government must declare a public health emergency as a priority in this Parliament, decriminalize possession of illicit drugs for personal use and give users access to a regulated safe supply.”

Johns was re-elected in the federal election on Sept. 20.

Johns has also outlined the following priorities:

“Climate change is the single most important issue facing our nation, the planet, and humanity,” said Johns. “It is my intention, along with my New Democrat colleagues to push hard for measurable targets to reduce carbon emissions and bold actions to transition from fossil fuels to green energy.”

“Economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must include small businesses, especially within the tourism sector. They are the largest job creators in our communities, and I intend on continuing my push for economic assistance for everyday Canadians. There are enough lobbyists and insiders advocating for big corporations in parliament. My intention is to speak out for the women and men who are still fighting to survive from this pandemic.”

“Indigenous rights and reconciliation needs to be integral to everything this parliament does,” said Johns. “It can’t be dismissed with a check mark next to an agenda item. It has to be integral to the entire agenda, whether the economy, health care, justice, education, services, everything and, importantly, in collaboration with Indigenous leaders, not as acts of benevolence.”

“Affordability has to be more than a handy adjective that this parliament adds to housing, childcare, prescription drugs, and other essentials of life. It has to be a fundamental approach that is accompanied by real and meaningful actions.”

“Courtenay-Alberni is made up of 31 communities, mostly rural and semi-urban, some remote and isolated, all unique with diverse populations and diverse and often complex needs,” said Johns. “We depend on a healthy marine environment, watershed protection, the survival of Pacific wild salmon, a vibrant tourist sector, a safety net for Veterans, seniors, people living with disabilities, and vulnerable community members. I will not stop fighting on all these fronts.”