Quebecers will be able to obtain Naloxone free of charge in pharmacies, the Quebec government announced Wednesday.

The goal is to minimize opiate overdoses; the drug is used as an antidote.

Those who believe that someone close to them is at risk of an overdose will be encouraged to obtain a kit, said Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois.

Police will also be able to administer the drug to people who have overdosed, she said.

Charlebois also said that nearly 90 per cent of Quebec ambulance technicians have been trained to administer Naloxone.

The government is in 'prevention mode' and is in the process of implementing a provincial strategy to prevent and respond to overdoses of opioids.

“We are watching the situation very closely,” she said, adding that the government takes the risks “very seriously.”

Health Minister Gaetan Barrette added that Quebec is not yet facing a crisis as in other parts of Canada, but that the situation is concerning.

"These measures proposed by our government demonstrate the importance we attach to the current opioid crisis in Canada. This shows that we are ready to respond and that we are taking the necessary measures to prevent overdoses, or to help people in danger as quickly as possible,” he said in a statement.

Public health officials say the powerful opiate fentanyl is responsible for 12 deaths in Montreal last month.

Two more overdoses in Montreal this week were treated with naloxone.

Those who help people with addictions are lauding the Quebec government's decision to soon make naloxone accessible and free to anyone in pharmacies.

“If we want to go further, it's important that the community organizations involved in safe injection sites, that they could be allowed, that they should be allowed, to give access to distribute naloxone to drug users that come to those safe injection sites,” said Louis Letellier de St-Just, a health lawyer and the chairman of harm reduction and drug intervention group Cactus.

Family doctor Marie-Eve Morin said the medical community also needs to begin treating addiction like any other disease.

“There is methadone and there's buprenorphine that is also called suboxone. Those two treatments are not drugs, they're medications. They are substitution treatments, so they replace opioids for users and when someone takes this at a good dosage at a good frequency, they're normal - they don't think about using,” she said.

With files from The Canadian Press