Canadian Government Supports Better Health Care by Allowing More Health Professionals to Prescribe Legal Controlled Substances

Factsheet: New Classes of Medical Practitioners Regulations

OTTAWA, May 13, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Government has introduced new regulations proposing that midwives, nurse practitioners and podiatrists be allowed to prescribe selected medications containing legal controlled substances.

"These new regulations will improve flexibility within the health care system and the timeliness of service delivery in Canada," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. "They will promote better continuity of care by removing barriers to access to these medications, where and when they are needed."

Currently, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act authorizes only medical doctors, dentists and veterinarians to conduct activities with controlled substances. The proposed New Classes of Practitioners Regulations (NCPR) would authorize these additional health professionals (midwives, nurse practitioners and podiatrists) to prescribe, administer and provide legal controlled substances such as codeine, fentanyl and diazepam to treat patients in provinces and territories where they are licensed to do so.

"Because of these new regulations, nurse practitioners will be able to efficiently deliver a more comprehensive level of quality care for which they are trained," said Judith Shamian, President, Canadian Nurses Association. "Nurse practitioners are poised and ready to deliver an advanced level of care that will reduce wait times and the burden on emergency departments. The time for transformation is now and governments are to be commended when they lead progressive changes such as this one, positively affecting millions of Canadians."

"The designation of midwives as practitioners under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is an important first step which we hope will ultimately facilitate midwives having the authority to prescribe a limited number of the appropriate medications for women in their care - namely medications for pain relief in labour and management of narcotic-induced depression in the neonate", said Kris Robinson, Chairperson Canadian Midwifery Regulators Consortium (CMRC).

Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for regulating health professionals, and have been consulted in the development of these proposed changes. By working closely with provinces and territories, the Harper Government is creating greater flexibility in the health care system by making it more convenient for patients to obtain the medications they need.

Interested parties may provide comments regarding this proposal within 30 days after publication in Canada Gazette, Part I.

Please visit the proposed regulations for New Classes of Medical Practitioners for more information.