FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Grieving mother urges honesty and action at federal toxic drug crisis committee  

Ottawa, ON | April 29, 2024 – On the eve of the tenth anniversary of her son Danny’s death from unregulated drugs, Petra Schulz, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH), will testify before the federal Standing Committee on Health (HESA) today on the “Opioid Epidemic and Toxic Drug Crisis.” 

Since MSTH’s founding in 2016, drug toxicity deaths have skyrocketed and show no signs of abating. In a tragic reflection of the human toll of the crisis, MSTH has grown to almost 4,000 members in that time, emerging as a national leader advocating for evidence-based drug policy intervention. Danny Schulz’s story is one of too many painful losses, and an important point of reflection today.  

Moms Stop the Harm urges the federal government to implement a full and equitable spectrum of harm reduction and recovery supports to save lives and give hope to families across the country. The HESA Committee has caught attention and news headlines in previous weeks as elected officials have heard from policy experts, healthcare workers, law enforcement, service providers, and more. MSTH, alongside the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) and the HIV Legal Network, has criticized the Committee’s exclusion of organizations representing people who use drugs, a decision seen as hindering a holistic understanding of the crisis. It is only through the experience and expertise of those with lived experience that we can truly end this lethal crisis.   

“It is so upsetting and infuriating to see the deaths of our loved ones politicized with misinformation and outright lies,” says Schulz, “I urge members of Parliament to stop the angry, harmful and polarizing rhetoric and social media posts, and to listen to people who use drugs when developing drug policy. Like my son, people who use drugs are valuable and loved. I miss Danny every day, and I do this work to prevent families across Canada from feeling this same devastation.”   

MSTH asserts that Canada’s criminal-legal approach to drugs and the significant gaps in available supports and services have created a flawed and dangerous system, driving the mounting death toll. “Tens of thousands of Canadian families are bereft, with empty seats at their tables,” says Schulz. “We are in this terrible situation because of policy choices. I am asking our elected officials to make different choices, choices that will save lives.”   

“We tried everything in our power but, ultimately, the system failed my son,” says Traci Letts, also of Moms Stop the Harm, whose son died in February of this year. “Our loved ones need autonomy and choice in their lives and in their healthcare decisions. We need harm reduction, regulated alternatives to the toxic drug supply, and evidence-based, voluntary, and accountable treatment, as well as significant investment into healthcare, education, food security, and other social determinants of health.”   

“All levels of government need to work together. The HESA study is an opportunity for Members of Parliament to better understand these issues and implement fundamental changes that are desperately needed,” says Nick Boyce of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.   

“While some governments are moving backwards in their support of progressive drug policy, we need leadership grounded in science, evidence, and compassion to end these needless deaths,” says Sandra Ka Hon Chu of the HIV Legal Network.  

Schulz will testify before the HESA Committee this afternoon. While this Committee is meeting, an estimated 22 people in Canada will die today from the toxic, unregulated drug supply in this country, underscoring the urgent need for sound policy decisions and political courage.  


Links and Resources:   

About Moms Stop the Harm   

Moms Stop the Harm challenges laws and policies that cause harm, including those laws that continue to drive the unregulated drug poisoning emergency in Canada. We call for an end to the failed war on drugs through evidence-based prevention, treatment and policy change.  

About the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition  

About the HIV Legal Network  


Media Contact:  

Jessica Hannon   

[email protected]  

About Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

Advocating for public health- and human rights-based drug policy grounded in evidence, compassion, and social justice