The death rate from illicit drugs in the Health Service Delivery Area that includes Quesnel is up so far in 2023.
The BC Coroners Service says the rate was at 72.3 people per 100,000 through March, compared to 67 at the same time last year.
The Thompson Cariboo Shuswap, which includes Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, was actually down from 61.7 in 2022 to 51.3 per 100,000 so far this year.
Province-wide, 596 people have lost their lives to suspected overdoses so far in 2023.
“It is clear that an urgent response to this crisis is required and overdue,” Lisa Lapointe, BC’s Chief Coroner said.
“Recommendations made by multidisciplinary experts on two Coroners Service Death Review Panels and the Province’s Select Standing Committee on Health into the crisis support the urgent implementation of a safe, regulated supply of substances for those at risk of serious harm or death, as well as provincial standards for the provision of evidence-based treatment and recovery services, along with requirements for reporting outcomes. There should not be a dichotomy between access to life-saving safer supplies and access to life-saving treatment options. Tens of thousands of British Columbians remain at risk of dying from toxic drugs and we continue to experience the tragedy of six people dying every single day, as we have for the past two years.”
Lapointe says this is not a crisis confined to certain neighborhoods or certain towns.
She says all areas of our province are immensely affected by this crisis, and collaboration, innovation, and the rejection of old stereotypes and failed solutions are necessary to prevent future deaths.
Northern Health has the highest unregulated drug death rate among all the health authorities at 60 per 100,000 people – slightly ahead of Vancouver Coastal (59.4).
That is down slightly from 60.1 in 2022, a year that saw a record number of drug poisoning fatalities in the health authority.
Interior Health is at 38.8 deaths per 100,000 to start off 2023.
That is down from 46.8 in 2022.
Overall, the rate in BC is 44 deaths per 100,000 individuals.
Fentanyl has been detected in 78% of all drug poisoning deaths in 2023.
71% of those dying are between the ages of 30 and 59.
In 2022 2,314 residents passed away from illicit drug overdoses in B.C., making it the deadliest year on record.
Unregulated drug toxicity continues to be the leading cause of unnatural death in British Columbia, accounting for more deaths than homicides, suicides, motor vehicle incidents, drownings, and fire-related deaths combined.