Controlled Substances and Nursing Practice in Community Health Facilities

The federal government has established exemptions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to authorize:

  • nurses who provide health care services at a community health facility to conduct certain activities with controlled substances, and
  • hospitals and pharmacists to supply controlled substances to a community health facility.

These exemptions are subject to conditions and have implications for interdisciplinary practice as it relates to opioid replacement therapy.

Note that the federal government updated the exemptions in January, 2019 to:

  • remove the reference to primary health care when referring to the health care services being offered in order to include settings such as treatment centres or addiction clinics, and
  • clarify that all nurses who are appropriately authorized by the laws of their province or territory are covered by the exemptions, not only those employed by the provincial or territorial¬† government.

If you are a nurse who practises in a community health facility, you are encouraged to review information about these exemptions, which is available here.