TORONTO – The Ontario government said Thursday it is spending $20 million to help the province’s 25,000 long-term care homes comply with a first-use deadline to administer unlicensed deadly and potentially lethal drugs to vulnerable seniors.
Seven long-term care homes were fined $1 million for failing to report the use of drugs and procedures that could cause a risk of harm, the Department of Health and Long-Term Care said in a statement.
The ministry will distribute grants to 15 Ontario businesses, mostly community-based and non-profits, to train staff in detection and detection testing methods. The companies will develop specific tools to reduce the risk of improper dispensing of the drugs, the department said.
“By making sure first-use prescriptions are being accounted for, we are safeguarding more vulnerable Ontarians from these potentially lethal drugs,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.
Under Ontario law, both a parent and a grandparent must give consent for use of a lethal drug like fentanyl to be prescribed to an adult grandchild. Despite the requirement, many don’t ask for permission, a recent review of long-term care homes found.
There have been 12 deaths in Ontario homes where drugs were in general use, the Department of Health and Long-Term Care said in a statement.
The ministry will continue to demand drug reporting and inspectors will be present in facilities in April to ensure compliance with the legislation.