13,900 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: national study

More than 13,900 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred between January 2016 and June 2019, while more than 17,000 were hospitalized.
More than 13,900 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred between January 2016 and June 2019, while more than 17,000 were hospitalized.

More than 13,900 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred between January 2016 and June 2019, while more than 17,000 were hospitalized.

According to a report by the Public Health Agency of Canada released on Wednesday, between January and June 2019, there were 2,142 apparent opioid-related deaths, making opioids a more dangerous killer than vehicle accidents.

While heroin, as well as prescription drugs, have had an impact, the bulk of the deaths have been caused by illegal drugs such as fentanyl which are extremely deadly.

The Public Health Agency also found that Western Canada continues to be the most affected while Ontario has also seen a rapid rise.

In their statement, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, and Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, say the opioid overdose crisis is complex and will take time to fix.

“To have a significant and lasting impact, we need to continue working together on whole-of-society changes,” they say. “This includes addressing the stigma that surrounds substance use, implementing further harm-reduction measures and reducing barriers to treatment. It also means continuing to work together to better understand and address the drivers of this crisis, such as mental illness, and social and economic factors that put Canadians at increased risk.”