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

Kitsumkalum Walk for Health raises $17,500 for new hospital microscope

The 5 km walk is a new take on a 10-year old fundraiser for Mills Memorial

PHOTO GALLERY: Malicous Monster Truck Tour

The Malicious Monster Truck Tour sold out to crowds of 2,500 people… Continue reading

CMTN First Nations Fine Arts program offers new advanced diploma

The 10-month program will focus on enhancing jewellery, sculpture and marketing skills

Terrace spawns new salmon art festival

This week’s featured artist: Casey Braam

Back in business: former Sears franchisees go it alone

Boota and Diljit Uppal’s new store opens in same location

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

One year later: Still no suspects in killing of 13-year-old B.C. girl

Marrisa Shen was killed in Burnaby’s Central Park on July 18, 2017

BC Games opening ceremonies promise to be magical

Features Shane Koyczan and his band, Asani, parade of athletes, and lots more

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors send DeMar DeRozan to Spurs in colossal NBA trade

Toronto also sent Jakob Poeltl and 2019 first-round pick, gets Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

More lightning forecast as storm sparks 38 new wildfires in B.C.

22 new fires in are burning in the Kamloops Fire Centre according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Banff’s bathroom bears returned to the park after 15 months of rehab in Ontario

Black bears, now yearlings, were sent to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Ontario last April

‘Recovery high schools,’ per diems urged to better manage addiction in B.C.

BC Centre for Substance Use says focus needs to shift to from overdose prevention to long-term care

Man hit over the head with a hatchet released from hospital

Prince Rupert RCMP have been in a standoff with a violent suspect since the early morning

Most Read