UofO student union won’t be allowed to use naloxone at orientation week over liability concerns
Student leaders running the University of Ottawa’s orientation week events won’t be allowed to administer the opioid antidote naloxone in the event of an overdose due to liability concerns if the injection were to go wrong.
Hadi Wess, president of the undergraduate student union that runs the events, said the group initially planned to have about 100 student leaders carry naloxone kits to combat any overdoses that could occur during the parties and events that get underway over the long weekend. The measure was to prepare for the possibility that substances such as the deadly opioid fentanyl could be mixed with other drugs that might be consumed.
That plan was recently abandoned, however, after the union consulted with lawyers, local health organizations and protection services on campus and realized it could be held liable if the antidote was injected improperly and led to a person being injured, Wess said.
A large portion of the University of Ottawa’s orientation week activities are run by the student union, Wess explained, a situation that is different from many other schools where the university administration is in charge.
“This is why we have to take a lot of extra measures when it comes to insurance and when considering liabilities,” said Wess. “We are under the Ontario Corporation Act for not-for-profits, so it is a liability for us if (naloxone) is administered in a wrong way.”
Student leaders at orientation events are being trained to call on-campus emergency personnel in the case of an overdose who can administer naloxone if needed, Wess said.
“These people are all 17, 18 year olds, it’s the first time they’re away from home, they’re vulnerable, and they could go through substance abuse and peer pressure, so we want to make sure they’re safe,” Wess said.