Signage Highlighting the Use of Time-Delayed Safes to Secure Narcotics Now Being Posted in Ontario Community Pharmacies

Posted:Nov 28th, 2023
Read Time: 2 Min Read

Community pharmacies across Ontario have begun to post prominent signage indicating the use of a time-delayed safe to secure narcotics, marking an important milestone in a province-wide mandate launched earlier this year by the Ontario College of Pharmacists to help deter pharmacy robberies.  

In March, the College’s Board of Directors unanimously approved updated policies requiring all community pharmacies to install a time-delayed safe to secure narcotics, a move strongly supported by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, local police departments, the Ontario Pharmacists Association, and various corporate and independent pharmacy partners.  

Board Chair James Morrison says that the Board carefully considered the benefits of time-delayed safes, together with the associated signage, and determined that requiring their use was an important step to help protect pharmacy staff, patients and the communities they serve. 

“Robberies can have a serious impact on the physical and mental well-being of pharmacy staff and patients and can lead to reduced access to care for patients whose pharmacies have been directly affected,” says Morrison. “And while no single measure can completely prevent robberies, our Board felt that this mandate, including the required use of prominent signage, was an important deterrence worth implementing in Ontario given the success of similar measures in other provinces.”  

“We are very pleased with the response from pharmacies across the province,” adds Morrison. “For Ontarians, seeing signage indicating the use of a time-delayed safe is an important reminder of the decision that we believe will help deter pharmacy robberies and their associated harms.” 


 A time-delayed safe has an electronic timer that prevents access until a pre-set period of time has elapsed after the correct combination has been entered.  

  • Signage indicating the use of time-delayed safes in community pharmacies is available for download from the College website. 
  • The mandate applies to all 4,800+ community pharmacies in Ontario. Community pharmacies provide retail pharmacy services and care to the public and are found in neighbourhoods across the province. 
  • Ontario joins British Columbia and Alberta in mandating time-delayed safes in community pharmacies. 


 “Police services across Ontario support the Ontario College of Pharmacists’ decision to mandate time-delayed safes in pharmacies. Criminals rely on getting in and out of pharmacies quickly when they commit robberies to steal narcotics. Mandating these safes and the signage indicating their use acts as a robbery deterrent, improves overall safety, and prevents stolen narcotics from fueling Ontario’s opioid crisis.” 

  • Chief Jim MacSween, President of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police 

 “Pharmacy safety and security are of utmost importance to protect staff and the communities they serve. As evidenced through other Canadian jurisdictions, the implementation of time-delay safes across all of Ontario’s community pharmacies as a crime prevention strategy, used in conjunction with other safety and security strategies, will help to ensure our pharmacy teams are safe while they provide quality care to improve the health of their patients.”  

  • Justin Bates, CEO, Ontario Pharmacists Association 


 The Ontario College of Pharmacists is the registering and regulating body for the profession of pharmacy in Ontario. OCP’s mandate is to serve and protect the public interest and hold Ontario’s registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians accountable to the established legislation, standards of practice, Code of Ethics and policies and guidelines relevant to pharmacy practice. OCP also regulates and accredits community and hospital pharmacies, holding them accountable to operational standards and relevant policies and legislation; pharmacies must be accredited by OCP in order to operate in Ontario.