Over 170 people died from toxic drugs in B.C. last month, bringing the total number of deaths to over 1,600 so far in 2023.
Of the 174 recorded, data shows 26 people were killed in Island Health and a total of 304 deaths total in the health authority so far.
While the service says it is the lowest total recorded in a single month since June 2022, it still equates to around 5.6 lives lost per day. The province adds we need to be careful when coming to conclusions about trends from single months of data.
“We are continuing to lose members of our communities in heartbreaking numbers as a result of the toxicity of the illicit drug market,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe.
“No town, neighbourhood for family is immune from this crisis and as the year of the public-health emergency go by, more and more British Columbians are experiencing the devastating loss of a friend, colleague or family member to the illicit-drug supply.”
The numbers in Island Health mean 4.1 per 100,000 death rate for the region last month, and 50.7 for the year to date. The province adds that data further reveals that smoking remains the dominant mode of consumption.
Twenty-one deaths have been recorded in the Comox Valley so far this year, with 31 in the Cowichan Valley, 31 in Campbell River, 86 in Nanaimo, six in Powell River and the Sunshine Coast and one death on Northern Vancouver Island.
Minister of mental health and addictions Jennifer Whiteside adds the province will be working with local governments to try and decrease the impact of the crisis.
“After hearing first-hand from municipal leaders at the recent Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention, it is clear that communities across B.C. are grappling with the devastating effects of the toxic-drug crisis,” said Whiteside.
“Mayors, councillors and local advocates shared stories that underscore the urgency and complexity of what we’re facing. This crisis knows no boundaries. It is a shared challenge that calls for a united approach from all levels of government.”