Opioid-linked deaths are on the rise Canada-wide: Ottawa

Overdoses have been particularly bad in B.C.

The number of apparent opioid deaths in Canada in the first nine months of last year almost matched the figure for all of 2016.

The Public Health Agency of Canada released the grim figures on behalf of a special advisory committee set up to deal with the epidemic of overdoses from prescription opioids and highly toxic illegal drugs.

There were 2,946 deaths believed to stem from opioids across the country in 2016 and at least 2,923 from January to September of last year, the vast majority of them accidental, according to data made public Tuesday.

From January to September 2017, almost three-quarters of such fatalities involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues, compared with 55 per cent the year before. Fentanyl can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Authorities have identified China as a leading source of opioids entering North America and Canada is working closely with the United States and Mexico to address the issue.

More than 42,000 people died from overdosing on opioids in the United States in 2016. Officials in Washington and Ottawa are feverishly comparing notes.

“We have had a tremendous amount of dialogue since this issue has hit both our countries,” said James Walsh, deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, an arm of the U.S. State Department.

Walsh is in Ottawa this week to discuss the opioids crisis with Canadian and other G7 counterparts.

“This is a global problem. Our point to our colleagues in the G7 and our other colleagues around the world is that, if you’re not seeing this now, this is a new paradigm, so you need to be prepared,” Walsh said in an interview Tuesday.

“We need to be shouting from the rooftops that this is something that you do not want in your neighbourhood infecting your citizens.”

Fentanyl is a challenge because even a small amount may be deadly and it can be shipped via postal mail — sparking efforts by the United States and Canada to intercept such packages.

The RCMP has been working with the Chinese Ministry of State Security to address the flow of synthetic opioids into Canada, supported by renewal of a memorandum between the agencies on crime-fighting.

Canada says the Chinese government takes a consistently strong official stand against trafficking in illicit drugs and supports international co-operation to disrupt criminal activities.

Walsh said officials must deal head-on with “the synthetics coming out of China,” but he too had positive things to say about diplomatic efforts with Beijing.

“They can do more, but it is working.”

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Collective agreement met between UFCW 1518 and IGA

Membership voted strongly in favour of the collective agreement, which came days after negotiations.

Safety board issues letters over rail crash that killed three workers in Woss

The safety board conducted the investigation at the request of the Transportation Ministry

SD85’s spring break schedule may change to two-weeks but would overlap Easter

“This makes absolutely no sense to me,” Barrett stated in a letter to school trustees.

UPDATE: Police say false bomb threat came from computer and printer in the school

“The threat was a hoax by a student,” said Port McNeill RCMP.

Winds of up to 90 km/hr predicted to hit Vancouver Island

Environment Canada is warning that loose objects may cause damage

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

Oil tanker ban to be reviewed by committee

Indigenous groups for and against Bill C-48 travel to Ottawa to influence the Senate’s decision

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

Most Read