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NPs will soon be able to prescribe controlled substances

Currently, nurse practitioners (NPs) in Ontario do not have the authority to prescribe controlled substances. 

We worked with the Ontario Government to draft regulation changes that would enable NPs to prescribe controlled substances in Ontario. We also sought feedback on the proposed regulations from nurses and stakeholders, including the public. On March 8, 2017, Council (the governing body of the College of Nurses of Ontario) approved, the draft regulations for forwarding to government for their review and approval. 

To help ensure safe client care, the proposed regulations include a condition that NPs must meet education requirements related to controlled substances. If an NP has not completed the education requirement by the time the regulations are implemented, it is proposed that their profile on the College's public register, Find a Nurse, would indicate the NP is "Entitled to Practise with Restrictions." A note would describe the restriction as follows: "This member cannot prescribe controlled substances. They have not completed the education needed to do so."

As per Minister Hoskins letter, we are working with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to implement the proposed changes by the end of March 2017. We will post an update to this page once we know the exact implementation date. 

Who are NPs?

NPs, also known as Registered Nurses in the extended class, are registered nurses who have met additional education, experience and exam requirements set by the College. They are authorized to diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medication and other treatments. 

What are controlled substances?

A controlled substance is a medication that is restricted by federal law (under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act). These medications are restricted because they present a high risk of abuse, addiction and diversion. There are hundreds of controlled substances and they are used in healthcare to treat a wide variety of conditions such as pain, anxiety, sleep disorders and so on. They include narcotics (e.g., morphine), benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam) and controlled drugs (e.g., testosterone). 

For more information, including other frequently asked questions, see: NPs and Prescribing Controlled Substances.

Page last reviewed March 02, 2017