More than 2,000 Canadians died from an opioid overdose in the first half of 2018, according to the latest numbers release by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Of those 2066 deaths, 754 happened in B.C.
Tragically, that means more than 9,000 lives were lost in Canada between January 2016 and June 2018 to apparent opioid-related overdoses, Health Canada said in a news release Wednesday.
“These statistics suggest that we have not yet turned the tide on the crisis,” the release said.
Of all overdose deaths, 72 per cent involved the deadly opioid fentanyl.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer said the need to increase access to a “safer supply” of opioids is being reviewed with provinces and territories — a move encouraged by a number of public health experts, including B.C. chief coroner Lisa Lapointe.
Other data released alongside death tolls in each province included the number of hospitalizations due to opioid-related poisonings, which saw a 27 per cent increase over the past five years. Smaller cities saw double the rates of hospital visits compared to Canada’s larger cities.
NEW: It’s not just a big city problem. Canada’s smaller communities see more hospital stays for #opioidpoisonings. With @GovCanHealth and @CPHO_Canada 👉https://t.co/VtvYp0ohjr pic.twitter.com/LoOaG8Ley1
— CIHI_ICIS (@CIHI_ICIS) December 12, 2018
Canadian Institute for Health president David O’Toole said the data shows the opioid crisis is not just a “big city problem.”
In B.C., 1,143 people died of an overdose between January and September.