On average, 13 people died per day across Canada in 2018 as a result of opioids.
That’s according to a joint report from Parachute and the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta where opioids were responsible for 46-hundred deaths country-wide.
In Northern Health, 95 illicit drug deaths have occurred with 38 of those in Prince George.
Jordan Harris is the executive director of the POUNDS Project in PG who spoke with Vista Radio.
“Prince George is on track to see more than 50 overdose deaths this year, which is nearly one a week. If you look at that in the form of motor vehicle accidents, if we had an intersection in Prince George that had a fatal accident every single week. we would have created a detour years ago.”
The BC Coroner Service says the Northern Interior Health Service Delivery Area, which encompasses PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley, had the second-highest drug toxicity death rate at 54.4 per 100-thousand people, trailing only Vancouver (56.0).
Harris is of the opinion more treatment options are needed.
“I think that scarcity of resources available along with treatment and support options are more limited in the north than they are in other areas of the province.”
As for what needs to be done to turn this public health emergency around, Harris stated the answer is two-fold.
“The answer to this crisis lies in safe supply of currently illicit substances and decriminalization of substance use. If we can create a way for people to access the substances they are dependent on in a way that isn’t going to kill them and if we can take the morality out of what is obviously a public health emergency, then those two things paint a very clear path forward.”
121 people have died in Prince George from illicit drugs since 2018.
Northern Health continues to have the highest death rate per 100,000 people at 44.1, compared to the BC average of 31.2.
There have been 1,202 illicit drug toxicity deaths in BC so far in 2020, well surpassing last year’s total of 981.