Naloxone kits to be required at ‘high-risk’ Ontario businesses

Ontario businesses deemed “high risk” will be required to have a Naloxone kit on hand starting June 1, 2023, the province announced Wednesday.

By Richard Southern

Ontario businesses deemed “high risk” will be required to have a Naloxone kit on hand starting June 1, 2023, the province announced Wednesday.

Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, made the announcement at the Wheat Sheaf Tavern at King Street West and Bathurst Street in Toronto.

Naloxone is a medication that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose of opioids such as heroin, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl. It can restore breathing within two to five minutes and kicks opioids off the receptors in your brain and, instead, binds to those receptors.

It’s unclear what will classify a business as high risk, though sources told CityNews on Tuesday that most construction sites, bars and nightclubs will be included.

If needles are found on site, or if an employee discloses a substance abuse issue, a business may also be deemed high risk, as will any industry with a perceived risk of an overdose.

“Ontario, like the rest of Canada, is in the middle of an opioid epidemic made worse by a toxic supply of recreational street drugs,” McNaughton said in a release.

“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 addition, reduce stigma and save lives.”

The province also announced that it will provide free Naloxone kits and free training to high-risk small businesses for two years.

“Our new Workplace Naloxone Program, as part of our Narcotic Transition Services, will save lives,” said 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.”

Businesses can determine if they are eligible for the program and find information on accessing naloxone kits and training at

The province said once the requirement is in effect, inspectors will take an education-first approach to enforcement.

RELATED: Drug checking, harm reduction sites needed to combat spike in opioid overdoses in Toronto

Health Canada said Naloxone is safe for all ages and is most commonly used as a nasal spray but can also be injected into any muscle in the body, such as the arm or thigh.

Opioid overdoses have become an increasing problem in the province as of late.

In November, Toronto Public Health (TPH) issued a warning of an increase in drug-related deaths, with 15 fatal overdoses reported over a four-week span. TPH said the overdoses are taking place in neighbourhoods across the city.

“TPH is encouraged by today’s announcement. We look forward to receiving more details and to continue to work with the province to address the drug poisoning crisis in Toronto,” officials said in a statement to CityNews.

Last year, 2,819 people died from opioid-related causes in Ontario — the highest number on record. Of the workers who died from opioid-related causes last year, 30 per cent worked in construction. Bars and nightclubs have also seen increased opioid usage and accidental overdoses, often because recreational drugs are being laced with fentanyl and carfentanil.

With files from Lucas Casaletto of CityNews

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