- Accidental poisonings are a leading cause of preventable injury and death in Canada -

Each year in Canada, over 1,500 people lose their lives and nearly 8,000 are hospitalized due to unintentional poisoning from medications, cleaners, cannabis products, and many other household items. This National Poison Prevention Week, we encourage Canadians to take careful steps to keep their loved ones safe by learning how to store potential poisons safely to prevent unintentional poisoning, as well as what to do in case a poisoning occurs.

Unfortunately, while there are currently nine different phone numbers used to access the five poison centres in Canada, many Canadians don't know the phone number for their local poison centre or even that the service is available. For this reason, Health Canada has launched a new toll-free number, 1-844 POISON-X, or 1-844-764-7669, in collaboration with four Canadian poison centres, to make it easier for people in Canada to access critical medical advice for poisonings. We encourage everyone to save this number in their phones, and to include it in their action plans in the event of a poisoning.

This new easy-to-remember toll-free number will help save lives while also adding a layer of resilience to our health care system by reducing unnecessary visits to hospitals, clinics, and doctors' offices. By calling this number, Canadians will now be re-routed to their local poison centre regardless of where they are calling from in the country. The current provincial numbers remain in service and Canadians can continue using them.

The launch of this toll-free number is made possible through Health Canada's investment in the Canadian Surveillance System for Poison Information (CSSPI), which helps aggregate, analyze, and interpret pan-Canadian poison centre information in near real time to inform poison prevention and harm reduction activities.

For more information about safely buying, using, storing and disposing of drugs, health products and household chemical products, please see the Health Canada website.

"Through this new toll-free number, it will be easier to reach a poison centre when it is most needed and help prevent severe illnesses and death. As a result, this will also add a layer of resilience to the health care system by reducing unnecessary visits to emergency rooms, clinics, and the doctor's office."
- The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health

Quick Facts

• Poison centres are the 24/7 access point for medical professionals and the public to access medical treatment advice for exposures to drugs and chemicals.
• Poison centres manage 63% or almost two-thirds of cases remotely without the requirement to enter a health care facility.
• In 2020, Canada's poison centres managed 215,589 cases; more than one-third involved a child aged 5 or under.
• In 2020, the most common substances involved in cases managed by poison centres were medications for pain relief (analgesics) and household cleaning products, such as bleach.
• A 2020 Ipsos online survey of Canadian parents found that only 40% were aware of poison centre services or how to contact their respective poison centre.
• The Government of Canada is working with all provinces and territories for the implementation of 1-844 POISON-X. Québec will continue using its current provincial toll-free number. If a caller indicates that they are accessing the national toll-free service from Quebec, they will be instructed to contact the Centre antipoison du Québec (1-800-463-5060).

SOURCE: Health Canada