Section 56 Class Exemption for Medical Directors in Alberta

Pursuant to section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), Medical Directors of health care service providers in the province of Alberta are exempted for medical purposes from the application of the following provisions of the CDSA and its regulations:

  • - Subsection 4(1) of the CDSA with respect to fentanyl, ketamine, morphine, oxycodone and pethidine
  • - Subsections 5(1) and 5(2) of the CDSA with respect to diazepam, fentanyl, ketamine, lorazepam, midazolam, morphine, oxycodone and pethidine
  • - Subsection 8(1) of the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR) with respect to fentanyl, ketamine, morphine, oxycodone and pethidine

In respect of this exemption,

  • Controlled substance means one of the following substances: diazepam, fentanyl, ketamine, lorazepam, midazolam, morphine, oxycodone and pethidine
  • Medical Director means a person, as defined in the Alberta Emergency Medical Technicians Regulation, who is a physician designated to provide medical control to paramedics, and is in a managerial position with ultimate responsibility for ordering, transporting, storing and providing controlled substances for an organization that provides emergency medical services in Alberta.
  • Paramedic means a person who is registered and entitled under the Alberta Health Disciplines Act and the Emergency Medical Technicians Regulation to practice as an Emergency Medical Technologist-Paramedic in that province and to administer controlled substances as part of the practice of paramedicine.
  • Unserviceable controlled substance means a drug product containing a controlled substance that is expired, contaminated, damaged, or any residual controlled substance remaining in a multi-dose vial.

This exemption provides the aforementioned Medical Directors with the authority to possess, transport and provide controlled substances required by paramedics employed by the organization that provides emergency medical services with which a Medical Director is affiliated and subject to the terms and conditions of this exemption.

The exemption is only applicable if the following conditions are met. Medical Directors must:

  1. Take necessary steps, in accordance with guidelines established by the health care service provider with which they are affiliated, to ensure the security of controlled substances in storage and during transportation;
  2. Order controlled substances from a designated licensed dealer in Alberta or order controlled substances from a licensed pharmacy in Alberta and return any unserviceable controlled substances for destruction to the Designated Administrator;
  3. Record all transactions involving controlled substances, i.e., date, name and quantity of controlled substances ordered, received, stored in ambulances or aircrafts, provided to paramedics (to be carried on their person), and destroyed by Designated Administrators; 
  4. Maintain all records submitted by paramedics working for the organization that provides emergency medical services with which they are affiliated;
  5. Report all incidences of loss or theft of controlled substances in writing to Health Canada within 10 days of discovery; and
  6. Keep all records specified in (3) and (4) for at least two years and make them available to Health Canada upon request.

This exemption will remain in effect until revoked. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions of this exemption may, among other things, result in immediate suspension of this exemption, and ultimately, in its revocation.

Signed for and on behalf of the Minister of Health

Original signed by

Julie Thompson
Director, Office of Controlled Substances
Controlled Substances Directorate
Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch

Effective Date: January 11, 2015

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