Listen Live

HomeNewsPG averaging seven illicit drug deaths per month to begin 2023

PG averaging seven illicit drug deaths per month to begin 2023

Fourteen of Northern Health’s 33 unregulated drug deaths during February and March occurred in Prince George according to the BC Coroners Service.

So far this year, our health authority has seen 46 toxic drug fatalities – 21 of those took place in the northern capital.

Province-wide, 374 people lost their lives due to illicit drugs in BC over the past two months.

“It is clear that an urgent response to this crisis is required and overdue,” Lisa Lapointe, BC’s Chief Coroner said.

- Advertisement -

“Recommendations made by multidisciplinary experts on two Coroners Service Death Review Panels and the Province’s Select Standing Committee on Health into the crisis support the urgent implementation of a safe, regulated supply of substances for those at risk of serious harm or death, as well as provincial standards for the provision of evidence-based treatment and recovery services, along with requirements for reporting outcomes. There should not be a dichotomy between access to life-saving safer supplies and access to life-saving treatment options. Tens of thousands of British Columbians remain at risk of dying from toxic drugs and we continue to experience the tragedy of six people dying every single day, as we have for the past two years. This is also not a crisis confined to certain neighborhoods or certain towns. All areas of our province are immensely affected by this crisis, and collaboration, innovation, and the rejection of old stereotypes and failed solutions are necessary to prevent future deaths.”

Northern Health has the highest unregulated drug death rate among all the health authorities at 60 per 100,000 people – slightly ahead of Vancouver Coastal (59.4).

However, 59% of all toxic drug deaths have been located in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health (190 and 161 deaths respectively) regions.

Overall, the rate in BC is 44 deaths per 100,000 individuals.

In terms of the Health Service Delivery Area, the Northern Interior, which includes PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley has the fourth-highest drug toxicity death rate of 72.3– only Vancouver (92.6), Northwest (81.8) and North Vancouver Island (73.8) placed higher.

Last year, Northern Health posted 183 drug poisoning fatalities, with 84 of those occurring in Prince George – both record highs.

Fentanyl has been detected in 78% of all drug poisoning deaths in 2023.

So far this year, 596 people have lost their lives due to the toxic drug supply – 71% of those dying are between the ages of 30 and 59.

In 2022 2,314 residents passed away from illicit drug overdoses, making it the deadliest year on record.

Unregulated drug toxicity continues to be the leading cause of unnatural death in British Columbia, accounting for more deaths than homicides, suicides, motor vehicle incidents, drownings, and fire-related deaths combined.

At least 11,807 deaths have been caused by unregulated drugs since the public-health emergency was first declared in April 2016.

- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -
- Advertisement -

Continue Reading