Naloxone kits mandatory for at-risk employers in Ontario

New regulation now in effect with MOL prioritizing education over enforcement

Naloxone kits mandatory for at-risk employers in Ontario

To combat the opioid epidemic, the Ontario government has implemented a new regulation mandating at-risk employers to have naloxone kits readily available in their workplaces. This initiative, known as the Workplace Naloxone Program, aims to increase awareness of opioid addiction, reduce stigma, and ultimately save lives. Ontario has witnessed a devastating toll, with over 2,500 deaths attributed to opioid-related causes in 2022 alone.

"Ontario is in the middle of an opioid epidemic, and every one of these deaths is preventable," emphasizes Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. "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 capable of temporarily reversing opioid overdoses, restoring breathing within two to five minutes and allowing sufficient time for medical assistance to arrive. The Workplace Naloxone Program is the first of its kind in North America and offers eligible employers access to free training for up to two workers and one nasal spray naloxone kit per 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," states 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."

To alleviate concerns about liability, the Good Samaritan Act protects individuals who voluntarily administer naloxone in response to an opioid overdose at a workplace. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development will prioritize an educational approach to enforcement.

The Workplace Naloxone Program has made significant progress since its launch in April. Over 1,000 nasal spray naloxone kits have been distributed to businesses throughout Ontario, providing immediate access to life-saving intervention. Furthermore, employers have the option to obtain their own naloxone kits for their workplaces.

Participating workplaces represent a diverse range of sectors, with construction and manufacturing accounting for 45 percent of participants. Retail (9 percent), health care and social assistance (9 percent), accommodation and food services (7 percent), other services (25 percent), and arts, entertainment, and recreation (4 percent) are also part of the program.

In 2020, the construction industry experienced a significant impact, as 30 percent of workers who died from opioid-related causes were employed in this sector. Bars and restaurants also witnessed a rise in opioid usage, often due to recreational drugs contaminated with deadly opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil.

To access free naloxone training and kits, employers can consult organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance, in addition to the information available on