Liberal Party byelection candidate Michelle Corfield, left, stands with Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister of health, outside of Haz Beans Coffee in Nanaimo. (Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN)

Health minister talks opioid crisis in campaign stop in Nanaimo

Support of cabinet ministers ‘incredible’ experience, says Liberal candidate

In the days leading up to the federal byelection, one candidate says she’s learned a lot campaigning alongside current members of Parliament.

Ever since Michelle Corfield was named as the Liberal Party’s candidate for the upcoming Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection, she has been joined by a handful of MPs including Joyce Murray (minister of digital government), Catherine McKenna (environment minister), Jonathan Wilkinson (minister of fisheries and oceans), Ginette Petitpas Taylor (minister of health). Marc Garneau, the transportation minister, will campaign with Corfield today.

Corfield, who was joined by Petitpas Taylor at a volunteer event on Tuesday evening, told the News Bulletin being surrounded by seasoned politicians has been an “invaluable” experience for her.

“When they come, they share, they talk and tell me about Ottawa, it is incredible,” she said.

Whether it is policy or just the experience of door knocking with them, Corfield said she’s learned something from each Liberal MP who has visited Nanaimo during the campaign.

“The ministers that have come, the members of Parliament that have come have all taught me something. I have learned from every single one of them,” she said. “This is probably the most valuable experience I will take into my future and it is going to help me as a human being.”

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Meanwhile, Petitpas Taylor told volunteers Tuesday evening that Liberals back in Ottawa are very supportive of Corfield and that she is “just what Nanaimo” needs. She said while the party can make phone calls and do a lot of work, volunteers are important in any election.

Canada’s health minister also spoke about the $1.7 million funding announcement that she made earlier that day while at the University of Victoria. The money will be used to pay for a pilot program at the university, where researchers will explore alternative equipment that has the potential to be more effective for identifying fentanyl in drugs.

Petitpas Taylor told the crowd the funding announcement is part of the government’s effort to tackle the ongoing opioid crisis to ensure that there are “proper resources” for drug testing.

Speaking to the News Bulletin afterward, Petitpas Taylor said a safe supply of drugs is a “huge issue.”

“We want to make sure that these agencies and that clients and drug uses have access to the tools so that they can test their drugs,” she said.

The federal government announced $15 million in new funding to be used for research into increasing access to drug addiction treatment and overall education about B.C.’s opioid crisis.

-with files from Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press 
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