Written by Dr. Michelle Murti, Medical Health Officer, Public and Population Health

The Good Samaritan Act became law in May this year. This is how it is helping save lives.

The drug overdose crisis continues to have a devastating impact in B.C., claiming 640 lives from January to May this year alone. In the event of overdose situations, many deaths can be prevented if medical attention is received quickly, but evidence shows that witnesses to an overdose often do not call 911 out of fear of police involvement.  

The new “Good Samaritan” law aims to take away that fear.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act became law in May and provides an exemption from certain charges, including simple possession of a controlled substance, for people who call 911 for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives.

“During an overdose, a call to 911 can often be the difference between life and death,” says Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health. “We hope that this new law, and the legal protection it offers, will help encourage those who experience or witness an overdose to make that important call, and save a life.”

Responding to the overdose crisis is an ongoing and multi-pronged effort, and Fraser Health is continuing to address it through enhancing substance use treatment and services, overdose awareness and education, increasing access to naloxone and working with government and community partners on overdose response and prevention.  

Read the full news release from Health Canada.

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