Justin Trudeau says he knows London's been 'suffering' when it comes to opioids

The Prime Minister is in London this week for a two-day cabinet retreat. He's also hosting a Town Hall at Western University's Alumni Hall, beginning at 7 pm Thursday.

The Prime Minister responds to a variety of questions about issues facing London ahead of a public townhall

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a Town Hall event at McMaster University in Hamilton on January 10, 2018. He's at Western University on January 11, 2018. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Ahead of a cabinet meeting and public town hall in the city, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to questions on London Morning about issues that concern Londoners. 

On rail safety, after sidewalk snowplow operator Malcolm Trudell was killed by a CN train

"Our hearts go out to Malcolm's family and to everyone in the community. This is a real tragedy. It's heartbreaking. And it's something that we have to take very seriously. Obviously the Transport Canada inspector looking at this and we're going to make sure that all the proper investigations are followed and appropriate action is taken."

"I've had a number of conversations with folks in London about transit plans, about level crossings, about the kinds of investments that are needed in the city and quite frankly our focus as a government is on being there to be a partner to fund the necessary projects to keep people safe and keep people getting to and from home and work as quickly and efficiently as possible."

On the ongoing problems at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

"I know that our minister of public safety, Ralph Goodale, is engaged with his provincial counterparts on this and a number of issues, and we'll continue to make sure that we're being helpful partners as we seek to make improvements." 

"We've moved forward on clear limits on segregation. We've engaged external review processes that will kick in automatically at certain thresholds and we're working on bringing Canada to the best correctional practices in the world.  

On London's opioid epidemic

"There's no easy solution and what we're doing is working closely with municipalities, with provinces, to try and get a handle on this tragedy that is affecting so many people, so many families, so many communities like London. And some more than others and I know London has been suffering." 

Trudeau highlighted a few initiatives, saying his government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting the opioid epidemic across the country:

  • By empowering frontline workers by accelerating the process on harm reduction sites
  • By looking at stricter border controls and mechanisms to stem the flow of illegal opioid
  • By working with doctors and medical centres to allow better access to treatments and synthetics, which in some cases are appropriate for people facing addictions.

On choosing London for his cabinet retreat

"It's a great place to come to. We also know that there are a lot of discussions on growing the economy, on jobs and in particular the challenges being faced by people here that the federal government needs to be more aware of than we already are. There's a lot more work to do always, and we're glad to be back here in London and listening to people."

"I'm especially excited to be at Alumni Hall at Western tonight for a town hall. Looking forward to seeing lots of people there, looking forward to hearing their concerns and talking about the kinds of things that our government is focusing on.

Hear more from the Prime Minister 

About the Author

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 15 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.