First-of-its-kind program will be available to at-risk businesses
Ontario has launched a first-of-its-kind program to provide free naloxone kits to workplaces considered at-risk. The program will also include free training on how to use the life-saving medication that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and restores breathing to allow time for medical help to arrive.
“Ontario, like the rest of Canada, is in the middle of an opioid epidemic made worse by a toxic supply of recreational street drugs,” says Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “That’s why our government is the first in North America to require naloxone kits be accessible in at-risk workplaces by June 1, 2023, to raise awareness for those struggling with addiction, reduce stigma and save lives.”
More than 2,800 people died in Ontario from opioid overdoses in 2021. Among the workers who died, 30 percent were employed in the construction industry. Bars and nightclubs have also seen a spike in opioid use and accidental overdoses. That is often because recreational drugs are laced with deadly opioids like fentanyl.
The Workplace Naloxone Program will see nasal spray kits provided to businesses for up to two years, along with training on how to use them and how to respond to an opioid overdose.
“Our new Workplace Naloxone Program, as part of our Narcotic Transition Services, will save lives,” says Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Everyone in Ontario deserves access to these kits, and this innovative program will bring a new level of safety to our province’s workplaces.”
The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development will be tasked with inspection duties, but will take an education-first approach to enforcement once the requirement comes into place in June of 2023.