Victoria – As British Columbia approaches the four-year anniversary of the public health emergency related to illicit drug overdoses, the BC Coroners Service and partners are renewing calls for improved access to a regulated, safer drug supply in the province.
The BC Coroners Service reports there were 981 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019. This represents an average of 2.7 deaths per day and will likely increase as investigations conclude. Though the 981 illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019 represent a 36% decrease from similar deaths in 2018, the number is virtually identical to the number of those who died in 2016, the year the provincial health emergency was declared.
More than four in every five deaths in 2019 had fentanyl detected in post-mortem testing.
Abbotsford had 39 OD deaths, Chilliwack with 19 (January 1 to October 31, 2019).
“More than 5,000 lives have been lost in B.C. since 2016 as a result of illicit drug toxicity. These deaths have deeply hurt families and communities across our province and represent an immense loss of potential in all walks of life,” said Lisa Lapointe, B.C.’s chief coroner.