About the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection for individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose.

The act became law on May 4, 2017. It complements the new Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, our comprehensive public health approach to substance use. Harm reduction is a key part of the strategy alongside prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

The act also supports the Federal Action on Opioids and the Joint Statement of Action to address the opioid crisis and prevent further overdose deaths.

We hope the act will help to reduce fear of police attending overdose events and encourage people to help save a life.

Legal protection granted by the act

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection for people who experience or witness an overdose and call 9-1-1 for help.

The act can protect you from:

  • Charges for possession of a controlled substance (i.e. drugs) under section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
  • Breach of conditions regarding simple possession of controlled substances (i.e. drugs) in:
    • pre-trial release
    • probation orders
    • conditional sentences
    • parole

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act applies to anyone seeking emergency support during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose. The act protects the person who seeks help, whether they stay or leave from the overdose scene before help arrives. The act also protects anyone else who is at the scene when help arrives.

The act does not provide legal protection against more serious offences, such as:

  • outstanding warrants
  • production and trafficking of controlled substances
  • all other crimes not outlined within the act

Save a life

SOS Poster - Suspect and Overdose? Stay and Call 911

Drug overdoses often happen with others around. Staying at the scene is important to help save the life of the person experiencing an overdose.

Witnesses should:

  • call for emergency help
  • be prepared by carrying naloxone to use if you suspect an opioid overdose
  • provide first aid, including rescue breathing (CPR), if necessary, until emergency help arrives
  • stay calm and reassure the person that help is on the way

Tell others about the new Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

 

Article is reproduced from:  Health Canada