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Illicit drug deaths in B.C. top 100 for second straight month

FILE - Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated police handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Alberta Law Enforcement Response)
Summary

B.C. recorded 117 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in April

The last time B.C. had more than 100 such deaths in consecutive months was in November and December 2018

The number of deaths last month is almost 40 per cent higher than that for April last year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. has recorded more than 100 illicit drug toxicity deaths in back-to-back months for the first time since in more than a year.

The province recorded 117 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in April and 112 the month before, according to a report Wednesday from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

The last time B.C. had more than 100 such deaths in consecutive months was in November and December 2018.

The number of deaths last month is almost 40 per cent higher than that for April last year.

The report also shows an average of 3.2 illicit drug toxicity deaths per day in the first four months of this year.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control recently posted an alert on increased drug toxicity throughout the province, with spikes in fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

“We remain in a public health emergency, with more than three British Columbians dying each day from illicit drug toxicity deaths,” says Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “Illicit drug toxicity death rates in B.C. are still the highest for any jurisdiction in Canada. Every region in B.C. has been impacted.

She adds recent efforts to improve access to safe supply in B.C. are encouraging.

“We continue to recommend a regulated, evidence-based, supportive treatment and recovery system as an important pillar in preventing future deaths.”

So far this year, there have been 382 illicit drug deaths in B.C.

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria have seen the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths this year.

Other key report findings for 2020:

  • 71 per cent of those who died were aged 19 to 49, and males accounted for 79 per cent of deaths — both increases from 2019;
  • 83 per cent of illicit drug toxicity deaths occurred inside and 12 occurred outside;
  • no deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.