Nearly 4,000 Canadians died of opioid overdoses in 2017: Health Canada

More than one-third of deaths were in B.C.

The overdose epidemic claimed nearly 4,000 lives in 2017, according to new figures released by Health Canada.

A Tuesday report from the federal government found that 3,987 people died as a result of opioid overdoses across the country. It’s a 34-per-cent increase since 2016, when 2,978 people died as a result of overdose.

About 1,422 people, or about one-third, of those who died last year in Canada were in B.C. Ontario was second with 1,263 deaths, while Alberta was third with 759.

B.C. also had the highest rate of deaths, with overdoses claiming 30.5 lives per 100,000.

Canada-wide, nearly four out of five killed were men, with the deadliest age group bring 30 to 39 years old.

Men were overwhelmingly the most likely to fatally overdose across most provinces. Only in Saskatchewan were male and female rates of overdose similar, at 56 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively.

Health Canada ruled that 92 per cent of deaths were accidental and four per cent were suicides. The remaining four per cent were considered undetermined.

Fentanyl, a painkiller much more potent than heroin and cocaine, was present in 72 per cent of fatal overdoses in 2017, up from 55 per cent in 2016.

READ MORE: Fentanyl trafficking presents new challenges for police, experts say

B.C., Ontario and Alberta all had fentanyl-related deaths make up more than half of their overdose figures.

The B.C. Centre on Substance Use has called for the government to look at decriminalizing currently illegal drugs.

Speaking with Black Press Media earlier this spring, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said despite the crisis, legalizing or decriminalizing opioids is off the table.

“By decriminalizing drugs, we’re certainly not going to fix the problem that’s on the streets right now,” she said.

In May, Ottawa announced that opioids dispensed in Canada will soon have to carry stickers that warn the drugs can cause dependence, addiction and overdoses.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Surrey’s Amazing Tutors donates hundreds of ‘Sunshine Food Bags’ to those less fortunate

For three years, volunteers and students have been putting together donation packages

Surrey’s Khalsa Lions take in bronze in Fraser Valleys

The senior girls team will be heading to the provincials for the first time in the school’s history

Delta supports proposed Health Canada regulations for cannabis edibles

Regulations focus on standardizing THC content, making sure edibles aren’t appealing to youth

Junior Team Canada brings home gold to the Lower Mainland, again

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read