Health Canada, in collaboration with poison centres servicing most provinces and territories, is implementing Canada’s toll-free number, 1-844 POISON-X (or 1-844-764-7669), to facilitate access to poison centre services. This number is now in operation throughout Canada, although Quebec residents should continue calling the Centre antipoison du Québec at 1-800-463-5060. Having POISON in the number will help Canadians remember what to dial in a poison-related emergency.
Poisoning is a major cause of illness and death in Canada and internationally. In 2016, the World Health Organization estimated that globally, poisonings were the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths. Statistics Canada’s recent estimates suggest that, annually, deaths due to unintentional poisonings have now surpassed deaths due to transport-related injuries. In 2020, Canada’s poison centres managed 215,589 cases, of which more than one-third involved a child aged 5 or under. The most common substances involved in cases managed by poison centres were medications for pain relief (analgesics) and household cleaning products.
Poison centres are the 24/7 access point for medical professionals and the public to access treatment advice for exposures to drugs and chemicals. Facilitating access to poison centre services through Canada’s new toll-free number further adds a layer of resilience to the health care system by reducing unnecessary visits to health care facilities. In fact, poison centres can manage about 70% of cases remotely without the requirement to enter a health care facility.
To learn more, read Health Canada’s news release and visit Canadian Association for Poison Centres and Clinical Toxicology (infopoison.ca).
For additional information on poison centre services or appropriate hazard information for chemical products, contact us today.