Government of Canada supports opioid overdose response training in B.C. and Yukon

News release

Initiative will train first aid attendants to administer naloxone and artificial respiration

July 18, 2019                          Kamloops, British Columbia                                       Health Canada

The opioid overdose crisis continues to have a devastating effect on individuals, families and communities across the country, taking the life of a Canadian every two hours. The Government of Canada is taking a compassionate, comprehensive, collaborative and evidence-based approach to address the opioid crisis. This includes ensuring the widespread availability of naloxone and opioid overdose response training to help reduce opioid-related overdoses and deaths in Canadian workplaces and communities.

Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced more than $400,000 in funding for opioid overdose response training delivered by the St. John Ambulance of British Columbia and Yukon Council. The Opioid Overdose Response Training – Occupational First Aid project will:

  • build upon existing Occupational First Aid training to include naloxone use and artificial respiration, and deliver this training across British Columbia and Yukon;
  • train up to 38,000 first aid attendants in British Columbia and the Yukon to administer naloxone and artificial respiration so that they are prepared to intervene in an opioid-related overdose;
  • standardize emergency first aid training to include the act of administering naloxone;
  • provide a program that smaller training agencies can also use; and
  • increase participants’ confidence and experience in delivering naloxone in an emergency situation.

The project will also help to reduce stigma around opioid-related overdoses through education on opioids and the current crisis. It will empower communities to take actions to address the crisis at the local level.


“Being prepared to respond to an opioid-related overdose situation at work or in a community setting could save the life of a colleague, friend or family member. Knowing the signs of an overdose and how to use naloxone is a skill I encourage all Canadians to learn. The opioid crisis is one of the most serious public health issues facing Canada. The more people who are trained to save a life, the greater the chance we can reverse the trends of this crisis.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor

Minister of Health

“St. John Ambulance’s opioid response began with our volunteer medical first responders attending to BC communities hardest hit by the crisis and reversing 141 opioid overdoses over a 24-month period. We piloted public training and taught nearly 5,000 people how to reverse an opioid overdose. Now with this funding announced today, we will incorporate opioid awareness and naloxone training into occupational first aid courses taught in BC and Yukon – teaching tens of thousands of people each year how to respond to a suspected opioid overdose in the workplace or the broader community. This training will save lives.”

Karen MacPherson

CEO, St. John Ambulance of British Columbia and Yukon Council

Quick Facts

  • Naloxone is a life saving medication proven to temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control estimated that from April 2016 to December 2017, 1,580 deaths were averted in B.C. alone because of take-home naloxone kits.
  • Funding for this project is provided through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). SUAP provides financial support to provinces, territories, non-governmental organizations and key stakeholders for programs and initiatives that aim to prevent, treat, and reduce harm of substance use issues.
  • On July 17, 2019, the Minister of Health announced an investment up to $76.2 million for new measures to scale up key lifesaving measures, mitigate the impacts of the illegal drug supply and address the increasing use of methamphetamine.
  • Through Budget 2019, the Government of Canada committed $30.5 million over five years, starting in 2019-20, with $1 million in ongoing funding, for targeted measures to address persistent gaps in harm reduction and treatment, including increased access to naloxone and opioid overdose response training in underserved communities.

Related Links


Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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