Ottawa, Ontario – Canada is experiencing a crisis of opioid-related overdoses and deaths across the country. Many of these deaths involve fentanyl, a highly potent and addictive synthetic opioid. The severity of this issue requires a comprehensive and collaborative response.
As part of the federal government’s commitment to address the national opioid crisis, today, regulations were published controlling six chemicals used in the production of fentanyl. This will make it harder to access the chemicals used to make illicit fentanyl, and provide law enforcement with a stronger ability to take action on these substances.
Changes to control these six chemicals, originally put forward by Senator Vern White as Senate Public Bill S-225, An Act to Amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (substances used in the production of fentanyl), support Health Canada’s Opioid Action Plan announced by Health Minister Jane Philpott in June 2016 and updated through the Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis signed at the Opioid Summit in Ottawa on November 19, 2016. The plan focuses on better informing Canadians about the risks of opioids, supporting better prescribing practices, reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids, supporting better treatment options, improving the national evidence base, and reducing the availability and harms of street drugs.
The Opioid Summit brought together experts and partners from across the country for a national discussion on actions to address and reduce the harms related to opioids in Canada. The Government of Canada heard from people who use drugs, families, healthcare providers, first responders, educators and researchers. Following a series of productive and insightful discussions and panels, the Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis was developed with input from 42 partner organizations, including several provincial and territorial health ministries; dental, nursing, physician, and other health professional associations; and regulatory bodies, among others.
Opioid misuse is a complicated issue, and there is no single step that will solve this problem. Government action must be multifaceted and dynamic to confront this crisis. By scheduling chemicals that are used to make illicit fentanyl, the Government of Canada is using yet another tool at its disposal to fight the opioid crisis by addressing the production and supply sides of the problem.
“Our government has moved quickly to implement new regulations to reduce the supply of illicit fentanyl. As we heard at the recent Opioid Conference and Summit, this is an urgent crisis and so these measures will take effect immediately. Our government is taking a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based approach to addressing this public health crisis. There is much more work to be done, and I look forward to working toward the implementation of the commitments recently made at the Opioid Summit.” – The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health
- The new regulations come into force immediately due to the urgency of combating Canada’s growing opioid crisis.
- The Government of Canada also supports the Good Samaritan Overdose Act, introduced in the House of Commons by MP Ron McKinnon, which will save lives by removing the fear of a drug possession charge for individuals who witness an overdose and call for emergency help.
- Access to naloxone, which can temporarily reverse a potentially fatal opioid overdose when used promptly, has been improved, and it is now available in both injectable and nasal spray forms without a prescription.
- The Minister of Health recently hosted a conference and summit on the opioid crisis with provincial and territorial partners, as well as key stakeholders.