The BC coroner reported that since the start of January, more than 1,200 BC residents have died due to a supply of toxic drugs, adding 184 more deaths as of July.
July marks the second deadliest month on record in British Columbia – just two less than the 186 deaths recorded in June 2020 – and is the 17th consecutive month in which more than 100 British Columbians have died from toxic drugs.
The average death rate in July is 5.9 British Columbians per day.
The overall death rate from toxic illicit drugs in British Columbia was 39.7 per 100,000 population.
Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria have the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2021 to date and the highest death rates per 100,000 population are on the Vancouver coast (47.2) and north (45.6).
Fentanyl and carfentanil, a more potent analogue of fentanyl, have been commonly detected in deaths related to toxic drug supply.
Provincial funding for naloxone kits
In April 2020, the BC government announced it would no longer provide naloxone training or kits to police forces.
Naloxone is a drug that is injected to reverse drug overdoses.
Last Tuesday, the Oak Bay Police Department chief tweeted that his supply was running out, and the Saanich and Victoria Police Force confirmed their departments were in a similar situation.
Oak Bay Police Chief Ray Bernoties has said he will not abandon the naloxone program and will seek funds for his 2022 budget.
Some departments have funded the program from their own budgets, while others are not yet short of supplies.
Premier Horgan responded last Thursday by promising to replenish the supply of naloxone for the few detachments that are experiencing supply problems, but he insisted on why the issue had not sounded the alarm 18 months previously.
The BC official opposition criticized the BC government for budget cuts and its lack of priorities.
“Last week we learned that John Horgan had cut funding for naloxone kits, which are essential for frontline emergency responders during this crisis,” said Trevor Halford, Liberal spokesperson for Colombia. British for Mental Health and Addiction.
“While the NDP continues to try to say that this public health emergency is a top priority, their actions show otherwise. “
Horgan doubled down on saying the province can only respond when problems arise, but it’s not yet clear when funding will be restored.