City hall could study whether restaurants should keep EpiPens

City hall could study whether restaurants should keep EpiPens

A Toronto councillor wants the city to consider making it mandatory for restaurants to have EpiPens available in case someone has an allergic reaction.

Between 1986 and 2011, Ontario recorded at least 80 deaths from anaphylactic shock in Ontario, according to a 2013 study conducted at McMaster University. Only nine of those who died had an auto-injector with them.

It's for that reason that Coun. James Pasternak, who represents Ward 10, York Centre, wants to see Toronto make restaurants keep EpiPens on the premises.

"There is no doubt that there is a great responsibility on individuals who have an allergy to take precautions," the councillor said Tuesday night. 

But then there are those who may not know they have an allergy, he said. 

On Wednesday, council will debate the motion, which calls for the city to study the health benefits and the cost of the idea. If approved, the city would also study putting EpiPens in public spaces, like libraries and swimming pools.  

​Good Samaritan Act

​The councillor said that while the Good Samaritan Act would protect restaurants from any liability if there were sued for intervening in an allergic reaction, Pasternak noted that the city would have to study how to train restaurant staff and what the cost of that might be to restaurants. 

If the motion were to succeed, the study would include consultation with those in the city's restaurant industry as Pasternak said he didn't expect Toronto would cover the cost.

'The restaurant that saves a life'

Grant van Gameren, who owns Bar Isabel and Bar Raval, and is involved with a handful of other hot spots, said he'd welcome the change. 

His staff are trained to ask customers if they have any allergies, but he said mistakes can happen. 

While he said his establishments can swallow the cost of an EpiPen, he acknowledged that smaller businesses might not be able to afford to. The auto-injectors cost about $100 in Canada. 

"I speak for my restaurants; we're willing to play the part to make people safe," he said. "A serious situation could unfold and I'd prefer to be the restaurant that saves a life."