The BC Coroners Service has reported more than 1,100 deaths in 2017 thus far from illicit drugs, 45 of which have occurred in the North.

In response, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy has announced a drug-checking project as part of the government’s three-year, $322 million commitment to combating opioid overdoses.

She says this is aimed to provide drug consumers with better health and safety information.

“We will also be expanding the distribution of fentanyl test strips to all supervised injection sites and overdose prevention sites. Drug checking can save lives by empowering people to make safer decisions, and it will help us answer key questions about how effective and reliable these technologies are.”

If successful, the Ministry says the BC Centre for Substance Use (BCCSU) could distribute the fentanyl detection machines to Northern BC safe injection sites.

“This is just one tool in the arsenal,” says Darcy.

“I recently approved the guideline for the use of injectable medications and injectable prescription medication, and have asked all the health authorities to come back with plans on how to implement that across the province.”

The pilot project is currently being tested in Vancouver, also using a Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) to help test a substance for harmful compounds.