Ontario to require naloxone kits in certain workplaces

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by Emily Atkins

The Ontario government is now requiring at-risk employers to ensure their workplaces have a life-saving naloxone kit on hand and workers trained on how to use them.

As of April, more than 1,000 free nasal spray naloxone kits have been distributed to businesses around the province through Ontario’s Workplace Naloxone Program, while businesses may also obtain their own kits. In 2022, over 2,500 people died from opioid-related causes in Ontario.

In 2020, 30 per cent of workers who died from opioid-related causes were employed in construction. The construction and manufacturing sectors account for 45 percent of participating workplaces. Other sectors include retail (nine percent); health care and social assistance (nine percent); accommodation and food services (seven per cent); other services (25 percent); arts, entertainment and recreation (four per cent).

Businesses can find out if they are covered under the program by clicking here. A determination is made based on the risk of an opiod overdose in the workplace.

“Ontario is in the middle of an opioid epidemic, and every one of these deaths is preventable,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development.

“From worksites to nightclubs, requiring naloxone kits in at-risk businesses will help us increase awareness for opioid addiction, reduce the stigma, and save lives.”

Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose, restore breathing within two to five minutes, and allow time for medical help to arrive. Ontario’s Workplace Naloxone Program is the first of its kind in North America and provides at-risk employers with access to free training for up to two workers and one nasal spray naloxone kit for each eligible workplace.

“Ensuring that naloxone is free and easily accessible across the province is a critical part of our government’s strategy to reduce overdose deaths,” said Michael Tibollo, associate minister of mental health and addictions.

“Everyone’s life has meaning, and naloxone gives people the second chance they deserve. This policy will save lives and make Ontario a safer place to work.”

Protection from liability available under the Good Samaritan Act would generally apply to a person who voluntarily administers naloxone at a workplace in response to an opioid overdose. Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development’s inspectors will be taking an education-first approach to enforcement.