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With the rise of drug-overdose related deaths in Ontario, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) has made a crucial announcement impacting employers. On December 14th 2022, the MLITSD announced that the Occupational Health and Safety Act will be amended to require certain employers in Ontario to provide naloxone in the workplace starting June 1, 2023.  To read more about the official announcement, click here.

The purpose of a naloxone kit is to reverse the symptoms caused by opioid overdose. Common opioids include: morphine, heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, and hydromorphone.  The MLITISD also provides employers with training on how to administer naloxone. However, not all employers need to have naloxone kits in the workplace.  The MLITSD stated that employers should provide a naloxone kit if all of the following three factors are present:

  1. There is a risk of a worker opioid overdose;
  2. There is a risk of a worker opioid overdose happening in the workplace where the worker performs work for the employer; and
  3. The risk is posed by a worker who performs work for the employer.

But what do these criteria mean to employers?

There is a risk of a worker opioid overdose:

First, an employer can become aware of a risk of opioid overdose in a number of different ways, including possibly:

  • A worker opioid overdose may have already occurred in the workplace.
  • A worker who uses opioids may voluntarily disclose this risk to their employer.
  • An employer may observe opioid use among workers in their workplace or discover that opioid use is occurring in their workplace during a workplace investigation.
  • An employer may find discarded opioid paraphernalia, such as used needles, in their workplace.
  • The joint health and safety committee, health and safety representative, a union representative, human resources staff, and/or someone else in the workplace may bring this risk to the employer’s attention.

Opioids prescribed by a doctor likely will not trigger the responsibility, nor would risk of overdose created by a non-worker, such as a customer, client, or other member of the public.

There is a risk of a worker opioid overdose happening in the workplace where the worker performs work for the employer:

  • Employers are not required to assess whether there is a risk outside of the workplace or any future risks arising. This is consistent with the general principle that employers are not responsible for the off-duty conduct of their employees.

The risk is posed by a worker who performs work for the employer:

  • Employers are not required to provide naloxone kits if the risk in the workplace is from another employer’s employee.  For example, on a construction site with multiple sub-contractors working simultaneously, only the employer of the at-risk worker(s) would be required to keep a naloxone kit on hand.

Starting June 1, 2023, all employers who meet the three-part test provided above must have naloxone available.  Currently, and for a limited time, eligible employers can get free naloxone training and a free naloxone kit through Ontario’s Workplace Naloxone Program facilitated by Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance.

If you have any questions on how this legislation will affect your workplace, please reach out to the lawyers for employers at CCPartners for expert legal guidance and support.

Click HERE to access CCPartners' “Lawyers for Employers” podcasts on important workplace issues and developments in labour and employment law.



Crawford Chondon & Partners LLP is committed to providing an inclusive workplace that embraces and respects differences.  We support and promote the ongoing development, implementation and maintenance of best practices and strategies to enhance and improve equality, diversity and inclusion within the Firm, in advising clients and in the greater community. Click to learn more about our Diversity and Inclusion 

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