Calls for safer supply of drugs as B.C. records 175 overdose deaths in July

published on August 25, 2020 by Camille Bains in The Province

VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 175 overdose deaths in July as paramedics responded to a record 2,706 non-fatal overdoses, prompting health officials to call for greater access to a safer supply of drugs as a top priority.

The province had its highest-ever overdose fatalities in June, with 177 deaths due to extreme concentrations of illicit fentanyl in street drugs after border closures stopped the flow of substances typically trafficked in the province.

The coroners service said Tuesday the death toll in July represents a 136 per cent increase over the 74 deaths during the same month last year.

A spokeswoman with Emergency Health Services said non-fatal overdoses reached a high of 2,399 in November 2016 before that number was surpassed last month.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry joined chief coroner Lisa Lapointe in calling for a robust response to the overdose crisis, saying it’s discouraging that pandemic-related measures such as physical distancing have contributed to overdose fatalities as people use drugs alone…

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