Premier Doug Ford and his government have amended regulations to allow police to administer naloxone to those suspected of suffering an overdose without being subject to an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
“No one should face unfair repercussions just because they are doing their job and trying to save a life,” Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Sylvia Jones said in a statement.
“This amendment will enable police officers to carry out their duties without fear of facing a criminal investigation, but more importantly, it will also help save countless lives.”
Under the Police Services Act regulation 267/10, police were required to report incidents to the SIU where a person suffered a serious injury or died after officers administered naloxone.
However, with the amendment, police won’t even have to notify the SIU when they administer naloxone or other emergency aid to a person who is seriously injured or dies — placing them at the same level as paramedics or firefighters, who also administer naloxone.
“As first responders, police provide critical life-saving treatment to individuals in crisis,” Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said.
The practice of the SIU investigating deaths involving police administration of naloxone was met with resistance from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police in January.
In addition, the union representing provincial police officers had also called for the Special Investigations Unit to end the practice of launching an investigation when an officer unsuccessfully administers naloxone.
The OPP Association, which represents nearly 10,000 uniform and civilian members, had said there was concern among officers that they could end up being investigated for “trying to save a life.”
Rob Jamieson, the union’s president, said the change announced Tuesday “reflects the current reality of policing in Ontario.”
“Today’s announcement strikes a perfect balance for officers who find themselves administering life-saving measures to a member of the public,” he said in a statement.
Naloxone can temporarily reverse overdoses from opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
The government announced in 2017 that naloxone kits would be offered to all Ontario police forces as part of the province’s efforts to tackle what it has described as an “escalating opioid crisis.”