Government of Canada takes action at the border to help address toxic illegal drug supply in Canada

News release

In addition to ongoing border and regulation control measures, a new Order has been issued for a group of novel fentanyl precursors

September 1, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada

The overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health issues in Canada’s recent history. Tragically, 29,052 lives have been lost in Canada between January 2016 and December 2021, devastating families and communities across the country, with the majority of these deaths involving fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances. The Government of Canada continues to work with its partners to help reduce the toxicity of the illegal drug supply in Canada. Importation of new chemicals—known as precursors—are being used in the illegal production of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Illegal drug producers often deliberately engineer substances to circumvent existing international and domestic control measures.

Yesterday, a new Order issued by the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act came into force to help address the illegal importation and distribution of a group of novel fentanyl precursors that are used in the illegal production of fentanyl and substances chemically related to fentanyl, known as fentanyl analogues. This Order will enable the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other law enforcement agencies and partners to take action against any illegal importation, distribution and use of the analogues and derivatives of the fentanyl precursor N-Phenyl-4-piperidinamine and its salts.

Controls for precursor chemicals, like this one, decrease the production and supply of toxic illegal drugs that are contributing to substance use harms in Canada and to the opioid overdose crisis.

In addition, there are ongoing actions at the border that contribute to addressing the overdose crisis. The CBSA has detection tools and enhanced safety measures in place for border services officers to safely and effectively detect, examine and interdict fentanyl and other toxic substances at the border. By preventing narcotics from entering Canada, border services officers help make our streets and communities safer. CBSA officers are highly trained in contraband examination techniques and are aware of the latest concealment trends.

The Government of Canada remains committed to taking action to address the overdose crisis through a compassionate, comprehensive, collaborative and evidence-based public health approach, which includes prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement activities.


“Our government understands that the overdose crisis and toxic drug supply are multifaceted, and we are working with our departments and agencies to face them head on. With the signing of this Order, we are giving law enforcement the tools needed to take action to halt the importation, distribution and use of chemicals being used in the illegal production of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in Canada. The presence of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in the toxic illegal drug supply has been a main driver in the overdose crisis, resulting in a tragic loss of lives in Canada.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“The Canada Border Services Agency has various tools in place to keep Canadians safe from illegal substances entering our country. By expanding the existing authority, our frontline officers can now take further action against emerging threats at our border, such as fentanyl precursors. I want to commend CBSA employees, and all law enforcement agencies and partners, for their commitment and excellent work in keeping our communities safe.”

The Honourable Marco Mendicino
Minister of Public Safety

Quick Facts

  • Since 2017, the Government of Canada has committed more than $800 million to address the opioid overdose crisis and responded quickly to implement a wide range of measures to help save lives and meet the diverse needs of people who use drugs.
  • Since 2017, nearly three quarters of opioid-related deaths in Canada involved fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances.
  • Data on Opioid- and Stimulant-related Harms in Canada show that while the average number of opioid-related deaths per day was eight in 2016, this number has now more than doubled, reaching an all-time high of 21 deaths per day in 2021. The number of opioid-related hospitalizations also grew from 13 per day in 2016, to 17 per day in 2021.
  • The Government of Canada works with domestic and international partners to address the toxic illegal drug supply, including by:
    • Providing border services officers with tools and equipment to safely and effectively detect, identify and interdict fentanyl and other toxic substances at the border. This includes:
      • Seizing over 20 kg of fentanyl at the border between April 2018 and April 2022, and over 27,300 liquid kg and over 7,500 solid kg of precursor chemicals intended for illegal drug production
      • Implementing 81 designated safe examination areas at high risk ports of entry for officers to examine goods and identify shipments containing suspected opioids for further analysis
      • Deploying 6 new detector dog teams at mail processing centres trained to detect fentanyl and other drugs
      • Constructing laboratory screening areas at air cargo and mail processing centres in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver
    • Working with private sector partners to address money laundering of the proceeds of fentanyl trafficking
  • Law enforcement and Canada Border Service officers continue to charge criminal suspected of diverting chemical products for the purpose of manufacturing illegal substances

Associated Links


Maja Staka
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

Public Inquiries

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