B.C. Coroners Service stats show that province is on track for another record-breaking year of illicit-drug overdose deaths

The April 2021 death total was 43 percent higher than in April 2020

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      B.C. has recorded an all-time high for illicit-drug toxicity deaths in the month of April.

      According to the B.C. Coroners Service, this was the cause of 176 fatalities that month, shattering the previous high of 154 recorded in April of 2017.

      The April 2021 death total was 43 percent higher than the number of similar deaths in April 2020 and 10 percent above the number of similar deaths in March of this year.

      In April 2021, the highest number was recorded in Vancouver, followed by Surrey and Victoria. 

      There were no deaths in supervised-consumption or drug-overdose prevention facilities.

      Through the first four months of 2021, B.C.'s illicit-drug toxicity deaths reached 680, well above the previous record of 555 deaths in the first four months of 2017.

      To date this year, 85 percent of those deaths included inside, including 56 percent in private residences. Another 29 percent of the deaths occurred in social and supportive housing, single-room-occupancy hotels, shelters, and other indoor locations.

      The minister of mental health and addictions, Sheila Malcolmson, said that she found it "hard to fathom" that friends and family continue dying from toxic street drugs despite "incredible efforts of front-line workers, health and community organizations, and all those working tirelessly to save lives".

      “When the overdose crisis collided with the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the progress we were making was lost," Malcolmson said in a statement. "Now, as we see our province turning the corner on COVID-19, it hurts even more to see overdose fatalities continue to mount."

      The all-time high in any individual month was the 185 deaths recorded in June of 2020.

      Meanwhile, B.C. Emergency Health Services has disclosed that its overdose call volumes reached a five-year monthly high in May. Last month, paramedics responded to 2,977 such calls, including 803 in Vancouver, 315 in Surrey, and 159 in Victoria. 

      "No community is immune," BCEHS tweeted.

      Dr. Mark Tyndall described the BCEHS numbers as mind-boggling, noting that it amounts to 100 overdose calls per day. "It is actually amazing that only 5 people die every day," he tweeted. "We don't even really measure the physical and mental toll of surviving an overdose."

      Below, you can see the reaction to the B.C. Coroners Service from Tyndall and other outspoken advocates for a safer drug supply.