Regulatory change allows police officers to administer naloxone to save opioid overdose
victims without facing automatic criminal investigation if unsuccessful
Elgin-Middlesex-London, November 14, 2018 – Yesterday, MPP Jeff Yurek announced
that Ontario's Government for the People is helping police officers in Elgin-Middlesex-London
and across the province to save lives by enabling them to carry and administer naloxone
in response to opioid overdoses like other first responders, who do not have to
worry about routinely being the subject of a criminal investigation.
"Our government is making these changes to ensure police do not face unfair repercussions
when they are doing their job as first responders trying to save lives," said MPP
Yurek. "This change will help save countless lives while making sure police officers
can do their duty without the fear of facing a criminal investigation."
The province has amended Ontario Regulation 267/10, a key regulation under the current
Police Services Act. Previously, police have been required to report to and be investigated
by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in an incident in which a civilian dies
after naloxone is administered. After this change, Chiefs of Police no longer will
be required to automatically notify SIU when a police officer has administered naloxone
or other emergency first aid to a person who dies or suffers a serious injury, provided
there was no other interaction that could have caused the death or serious injury.
Police officers will now be on par with other emergency first responders - such
as paramedics or firefighters - who can carry and administer naloxone but are not
subject to the same level of oversight. This is a significant change as police officers
are often the first to arrive on the scene in a medical emergency and do what any
first responder would do: they try to save a life.
"Today's announcement is one of the first steps to fulfill our election commitment
to support our police officers and fix Ontario's broken policing legislation," said
MPP Yurek. "We are continuing our work with law enforcement to keep our streets
and communities safe and respect the ongoing work of frontline policing services."
"On behalf of the Police Association of Ontario's (PAO) 18,000 sworn and civilian
front-line police personnel members, today's regulation update announcement by the
Ontario Government is welcome news. The PAO has long-wondered why – when all first
responders (firefighters, paramedics, police officers, health care professionals)
are equipped and trained to administer naloxone to a person experiencing an overdose
– police officers are the only profession subjected to an investigation if the recipient
of the life-saving treatment still dies from the overdose. We are pleased the provincial
government recognizes how integral frontline police personnel are in the fight against
this growing opioid crisis. Our members are committed to keeping Ontario's communities
safe and saving lives."
Bruce Chapman, President, Police Association of Ontario
"Ontario's police leaders welcome today's announcement, which puts saving lives
first. The OACP has always maintained that our police officers deploy naloxone to
save the lives of individuals who may be experiencing a drug overdose. This regulatory
change will allow our frontline personnel to continue to uphold their responsibility
to save lives without the concern of being subjected to an SIU investigation."
Chief Kimberley Greenwood, President of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
"When this regulation was written, naloxone was rarely used as a life saving measure.
We are very pleased that the government is taking a fair and common sense approach
to oversight with this update to the Police Services Act."
Rob Jamieson, President, Ontario Provincial Police Association
"The Toronto Police Services Board welcomes this important change to the regulation
as we try to deal with the unprecedented challenges associated with opioid use in
our city. This exemption will benefit both members of the community who require
life-saving intervention, as well as police officers who are acting to administer
this critical intervention."
Andy Pringle, Chair, Toronto Police Services Board
"Last year, the opioid crisis claimed the lives of more than 1,250 Ontarians, and
devastated countless others. Naloxone is a crucial life saving measure to help address
this epidemic. We welcome this change in regulation which will enable police officers
on the front lines to administer naloxone without hesitation or fear of reprisal.
Bottom line is that this will help save lives."
Dr. Kim Corace, Director of Clinical Programming and Research
Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program and
Regional Opioid Intervention Service, Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre
"This new regulatory exemption to the reporting of incidents of civilian death or
serious injury where naloxone is administered, and when the cause of death is only
due to the overdose, is long overdue. This change will benefit those whose lives
are at risk during overdoses, as well as serve to promote the wellbeing of police
Dave Gallson, National Executive Director, Mood Disorders Society of Canada
"When administering naloxone to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose,
every second is important. CAMH supports this regulation and any measure that enhances
the ability of police officers and emergency personnel to respond to the opioid
crisis in Ontario."
Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
"In the midst of an opioid crisis that is killing thousands of people across Canada
every year; this is positive news as the existing regulation works against both
police officers trying to save lives and drug users suffering the overdose. Other
first responders who administer naloxone are not subject to investigation, but police
officers endure additional oversight for providing immediate life-saving medical
care to a person. Police officers are committed to public safety and continuously
put the interests of the public before any personal interests, and this amendment
helps support their dedication to continuing to do their job effectively without
fear from oversight when they are trying to save lives."
Ann Marie Mac Donald, Executive Director/CEO
Mood Disorders Association of Ontario
- Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose
(e.g., fentanyl, oxycodone, heroin) if used within a short period following an opioid
overdose. It is now being carried by many police officers for use in opioid overdose
or apparent opioid overdoses.
- Naloxone does not affect non-opioids. Administering naloxone to a person who is
unconscious because of a non-opioid overdose or for other reasons is unlikely to
- The SIU is a police oversight body, independent of the police, that conducts criminal
investigations into circumstances involving police and civilians that have resulted
in serious injury or death.
- The SIU will continue to investigate civilian deaths where other factors are present
(e.g. if there was any use of force against the person who received the naloxone
or if a person dies while in police custody/detention).