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BC records deadliest January on record for illicit drug deaths

(From the Files of Brendan Pawliw staff)

January picked up right where 2020 left off when it came to illicit drug overdose deaths in BC.

According to the BC Coroners Service, 165 drug toxicity deaths were recorded last month, the largest number of fatalities ever recorded in the month of January.

This represents a 104% increase in the number of deaths that took place during the same month in 2020.

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“These figures are heartbreaking, both in scale and for the number of families who are grieving the loss of a loved one,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, BC Coroners Service.

“In the fifth year of this public health emergency, there is virtually no community in the province that hasn’t been touched by this devastating loss of life.”

An average of 5.3 lives were lost each day in January due to the toxic drug supply in B.C., a death rate of 38.1 per 100,000 residents.

Northern Health recorded 17 illicit drug deaths, with seven of those occurring in Prince George.

The northern capital posted 63 overdose deaths during 2020.

Our health authority’s drug toxicity death rate of 70.5 per 100,000 thousand people is the highest in the province – nearly twenty points ahead of Vancouver Coastal (51.9).

The Coroner Service stated the Northern Interior Health Service Delivery Area, which encompasses PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley also recorded seven deaths to kick off the new year.

Seventy percent of deaths that took place in January were between the ages of 30 and 59.

BC posted a record of 1,726 illicit drug deaths in 2020.

To view the full report click here.

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