B.C. sets record for suspected illicit-drug overdose deaths in October

More than 200 people died that month, according to the B.C. Coroners Service

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      The number of illicit-drug overdose deaths continues to climb in B.C.

      Today (December 9), the B.C. Coroners Service revealed that there were 201 suspected fatalities from tainted street drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine, illicit fentanyl, et cetera.

      That's the highest total in a single month in recorded history.

      Over 10 months, 1,782 people are suspected to have died from tainted street drugs in B.C., eclipsing the number recorded in any calendar year.

      The previous annual record was 1,765 deaths recorded in 2020.

      So far this year, 79 percent of those dying from illicit-drug overdoses have been male. And 71 percent were between 30 and 59 years of age.

      More than half—55 percent—occurred inside private residences.

      Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria were the cities that recorded the most deaths.

      The full report is available here.

      Since B.C.'s former provincial health officer declared a public emergency in response to illicit-drug overdoses in 2016, the death rate from these events has increased sharply.
      B.C. Coroners Service

      B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau accused the NDP government of "not doing enough to stop this tragedy".

      Her party has repeatedly called for an emergency all-party committee to address this issue, as have the B.C. Liberals.

      “The political will is lacking only from this government, and it is costing lives," Furstenau said in a statement. 

      She also pointed out that her party has demanded "an immediate expansion of regulated safe supply of drugs" in B.C. And she noted that the recent B.C. Coroners Service report indicated that none of the overdose deaths are linked to the safe supply that's available today.

      "It needs to be recognized that this crisis requires a combination of harm reduction and access to a wide spectrum of treatment options, particularly Indigenous-run programs," Furstenau stated.  “We also need to see accessible mental health care for people in B.C. Too many people are unable to get mental health care when they need it, and this is exacerbating the toll of the toxic drug supply.

       “This is a public health emergency. Like we did under the minority government when COVID-19 first emerged, this toxic drug crisis demands an all-party approach instead of closed doors and slow actions. It is disappointing that this government would not choose to work with other parties. Together, we could share the burden of this responsibility, collaborate on solutions, and take urgent collective action.”

      Here are what two advocates for a safe supply are saying about this situation on social media;