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This webinar will discuss findings of the recently released report, "Urgent and Long Overdue: Legal Reform and Drug Decriminalization in Canada." Panelists will address Canada's drug crisis, focusing on elements of a national approach to decriminalization.

This event will be held in English (live interpretation available).

Read the report 


Vanessa Gruben B.Sc.H (Queen’s), LL.B. (Ottawa), LL.M. (Columbia) is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law and Director of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics.  Her research and writing focus on various topics in health law and ethics.  She is a co-editor of the 5th edition of Canadian Health Law and Policy, Canada’s leading health law text.  Professor Gruben’s research has been funded by SSHRC, CIHR, Canadian Blood Services and the Law Foundation of Ontario. In addition to her research, Professor Gruben teaches courses on health law, reproductive health law and access to health care. Outside of academia, Professor Gruben serves on the boards of the Canadian Health Coalition and AMS Healthcare. 


Matthew Bonn is a drug user advocate and freelance writer. He sits on the board of the International Network of Health and Hepatitis in Substance Users, is the social media editor for the International Journal of Drug Policy, and a knowledge translator with the Dr. Peters AIDS foundation. He helped open Atlantic Canada's first Overdose Prevention Site. He has by-lines in Filter-Mag, The Coast, Policy Options, The Conversation, & Doctors Nova Scotia. He was also on the 64th Canadian Delegation to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. He is a former drug user and person who was formerly incarcerated. 

Marilou Gagnon, RN, ACRN, BScN (Montréal), LLM (York), PhD (Ottawa), is a Professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Nursing and Scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. Her interdisciplinary program of research seeks to address gaps in knowledge that have the potential to inform public policies, while also advancing the rights and the health of people who use drugs, people at risk of or living with sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI), and people experiencing homelessness. She has held leadership positions on several boards, including the Canadian Association of Nurses in HIV Care, the Harm Reduction Nurses Association, and the HIV Legal Network. For her contribution to research and advocacy, she has received several awards including the CAHR-CANFAR Excellence in Research Award (2023), the UVic Provost’s Award for Advocacy and Activism (2022), the RNAO Leadership in Political Action Award (2018) and the CANAC Outstanding Advocate Award (2015).    

Elaine Hyshka is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Health Systems Innovation at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health, and Scientific Director of the Inner-City Health and Wellness Program. Her program of health systems and services research is focused on advancing a public health approach to substance use in Canada. She works closely with service providers, health authorities, people with lived experience of substance use, and all levels of government to identify, evaluate, and scale systems innovations for improving health outcomes and advancing health equity. Between 2019-2023 Dr. Hyshka co-Chaired Health Canada’s Expert Advisory group on Safer Supply, and between 2017-2019 she served as Co-Chair of the Alberta Minister of Health’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission. Her research and leadership have been recognized with multiple awards, including a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal, a Trailblazer Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Population and Public Health, and a President’s Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievements in Innovation from Alberta Health Services. 

Martha Jackman, LLB (Toronto), LLM (Yale), is a professor of constitutional law at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, where she has taught in the French Common Law program since 1988. She was a consultant to the Auditor General of Canada (Federal Support of Health Care Delivery Audit), the Canadian Bar Association Health Care Task Force, the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, and the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada.  She is a past board member of the Canadian Health Coalition and has acted as legal counsel in Charter test cases, including before the Supreme Court in Eldridge v British Columbia and Chaoulli v Québec. Her research interests include socio-economic rights, federalism, equality and health.