128 people died of illicit-drug overdoses in BC in September: coroner

128 people died of illicit-drug overdoses in BC in September: coroner
128 people died of overdoses in B.C. in September: report
Five years since the synthetic-opioid fentanyl arrived in Vancouver, numbers of overdose deaths remain higher than ever. There is no end to the crisis in sight

The latest drug-overdose statistics from the B.C. Coroners Service reveal an increasingly clear picture: more than 100 fatal overdoses each month is the new normal for British Columbia.

1000s of lives lost to crisis – BC News

The coroners latest batch of monthly data, released today (November 14), covers up to the end of September 2018. It shows that that month, there were 128 overdose deaths across the province.

"We take all allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously … definitive action is being taken to eliminate this kind of behaviour," Sajjan's press secretary said in a press statement. "We will not stop until all our members are able to perform their duties in an environment free from harassment and discrimination."

Then, in November 2016, there were 142 overdose deaths. Since that month, there have only been two months—September and October 2017—when less than 100 deaths were recorded in B.C.

"Everyone knows the numbers here as I've seen and in B.C. (everybody) cares greatly about them," said McKenna in an interview. "It's challenging for sure. That's why we're making the investments through our Oceans Protections Plan, but also very specifically targeting the killer whales."

The number of fatal overdoses in B.C. each month is no longer increasing. But it remains above 100 deaths per month and not far below the provinces all-time high of 160 deaths recorded in both March 2018 and December 2016.

Suzanne Anton, Vote No co-director who was attorney general in a previous B.C. Liberal government, pointed as an example to Sweden, where the far-right Sweden Democrats have roots in a neo-Nazi movement and won 18 per cent of the vote in a recent election while also picking up the third most seats in the parliament.

During the first nine months of this year, 1,143 people in B.C. died after taking illicit drugs. That puts the province on track for a projected 1,524 deaths by the end of 2018.

Earth scientists have long discussed the idea of the Anthropocene — a period of Earth's history defined by geological markers of human impact. Otto, after reviewing dozens of research papers, concludes the planet's biology is becoming similarly marked as plants and animals respond to human pressure.

On September 23, the Straight reported that B.C.s epidemic of drug-overdose deaths is now so severe that illicit narcotics are single-handedly responsible for dragging down the average life expectancy for the population of the entire province.

Dawson Creek RCMP are seeking information from any witnesses that may have noticed suspicious activity, vehicles, or persons at the Hillcrest Motel in Pouce Coupe on Nov. 8, or anyone that may have observed the black Dodge dually pickup being left on Road 201 off of Hwy 49 near the Alberta border later that day.

“Recent data from B.C. show that life expectancy dropped by 0.12 year from 2014 to 2016 due to deaths involving substances, with over 90% of these related to opioids,” reads an October 23 report by Canadas chief public-health officer. “This dip in life expectancy was more pronounced in men and in poorer neighbourhoods.”

A female killer whale whose calf died shortly after birth pushed the body of the dead calf with her for more than two weeks. An intervention effort by both Canadian and American officials to save a second juvenile-aged female failed when the emaciated animal disappeared and was declared dead by experts.

Todays B.C. Coroners Service report follows the November 13 publication of a Statistics Canada analysis that looks at socioeconomic characteristics of B.C. residents who died of an illicit-drug overdose between 2011 and 2016.

“While the drug overdose crisis has affected all provinces and territories, the crisis has been most acute in British Columbia, where most illicit drug overdose deaths have occurred,” is begins.

“Analysis of this fatal overdose cohort indicate that those dying from preventable illicit drug overdoses in British Columbia are a diverse population,” the document continues. “This group includes both people who had not been in contact with the hospital, employment, social income assistance or justice systems in the years prior to their fatal overdose, as well as those who had. This highlights the need for a diverse plan of action when attempting to identify potential points of intervention around preventable fatal overdoses.”

The federal government introduced killer whale protection measures in the summer that included reducing noise levels from vessels, accelerating studies of the impacts of pollution on whale populations and restricting chinook salmon fishing, the preferred food of the southern residents.

“One-third of people who fatally overdosed in British Columbia…who had had contact with police died within three months of the contact,” the report adds.

Concerning income and employment, the Statistics Canada analysis paints a diverse portrait of those who have died after taking drugs in B.C.

As residents of the province vote in an ongoing referendum on electoral reform, the Vote No side is cautioning that the system would allow extremists to be elected with a tiny percentage of votes and hold the balance of power with "disastrous results."

“In British Columbia, 26% of people who died from an illicit drug overdose were employed in each of the five years prior to death,” it reads. “In contrast, 34% of people who died from an illicit drug overdose in British Columbia had no earnings over this same time period.”

Backyard bird feeders are behind changes in the beak shape and strength of house finches. Different mammals are becoming nocturnal as a way to avoid human conflict. Introduced species change the ground rules for native plants and animals.

The report notes that people earning lower incomes appear to be disproportionately affected by B.C.s overdose crisis.

It's a chilling message for voters weighing the options of maintaining the existing first-past-the-post system or moving to proportional representation, but political scientists say the threat is being exaggerated.

“People in British Columbia who were employed in the year prior to their fatal overdose earned, on average, $28,437 that year,” it reads. “By comparison, workers in British Columbia reported an average employment income of $42,000 in 2016.”

Some fish are growing mouths that are smaller and harder to hook. Large animals from caribou to tuna are disappearing. Meanwhile, it's boom time for anything not too fussy about where it lives or what it eats.

The B.C. government declared a public-health emergency in relation to overdose deaths on April 14, 2016.

Vancouver city council has voted to support newly elected Mayor Kennedy Stewart in appointing an opioid emergency task force to review the factors driving opioid dependency and to advise council on possible interventions.

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Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was confronted with the passions many in B.C. have for the plight of the West Coast's endangered killer whales while she cycled on a Victoria-area bike path Wednesday.

An educational pamphlet and samples of naloxone, a drug used to counter the effects of opiate overdose, are displayed on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 . (AP / Elise Amendola)

Images of burning tires and marching soldiers flash across the screen in a video advertisement warning British Columbia voters that proportional representation provides the "perfect platform" for extremists.

VANCOUVER — The latest figures from the BC Coroners Service show 128 people died of illicit-drug overdoses in September, an eight per cent increase from the previous month.

The figure released Wednesday also reveals a marked increase in fatalities from the same month a year ago, when 93 people overdosed in the province.

The minister said she was cycling to a news conference along Victoria's Galloping Goose Trail when she met a group of protesters calling on the government to do more to save the southern resident killer whales.

Men have accounted for 80 per cent of the 1,143 deaths so far this year, with the opioid fentanyl responsible for the vast majority of them, the service said. Cocaine and methamphetamine also figured prominently in the number of illicit-drug deaths since 2016.

"Human impacts on the world are not just local," she said. "They are changing the course of evolutionary history for all species on the planet, and that's a remarkable concept to ponder."

Vancouver city council was expected to hear a motion Wednesday evening on newly elected Mayor Kennedy Stewarts intention to appoint an opioid emergency task force that would review the factors driving opioid dependency and to advise council on possible interventions.

Coun. Melissa De Genova of the Non-partisan association, which is one of four parties that make up Vancouvers council, asked for provincial funding for the opioid crisis, a motion that passed with a unanimous vote at a meeting on Tuesday.

"It's a reshaping of the tree of life," said Sarah Otto, a University of British Columbia researcher, whose paper was published Wednesday by the London-based Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Sarah Blyth, who ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate for council, co-founded an illegal supervised injection site in the Downtown Eastside in 2016, when a record 615 people fatally overdosed.

She said Vancouver doesnt need another task force but should instead start implementing some of the recommendations from previous ones along with information from community action teams in B.C., where provincial and municipal representatives as well as drug users and citizens have provided input.

The office of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan released a statement Wednesday, following a Vancouver Island woman's revelations that she was drugged at a bar and then raped on the Victoria-area base.

"Its an absolute emergency," Blyth said. "On and on with task forces for years is getting a bit frustrating."

Last year, former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson headed a task force involving mayors from 12 other cities across Canada and asked for leadership on the "national emergency" of overdoses by ensuring provinces provide timely access to addiction treatment.

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The task force, which was part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, also called for prescription heroin for people who have not responded to other forms of intervention. Vancouver has the only such clinic in Canada but it accepts a limited number of patients.

A conservation area in British Columbia's southeast mountains is being expanded by almost 8,000 hectares with the help of federal and provincial government contributions totalling $14.6 million.

Data from a federal task force on opioid deaths said nearly 4,000 Canadians died as a result of overdoses in 2017, a 34-per-cent jump from the previous year.

Blyth said she believes decriminalization is a key recommendation from task forces on combating the overdose crisis so users have a safe supply of drugs that is not contaminated with fentanyl or other fillers.

"With the crisis weve realized fentanyl is not the only thing thats damaging. There are other things. Theres pig dewormer, rat poisoning, cement," she said, adding laundry detergent and other cleaning products also end up in drugs sold on the street.

Officials in cities including Vancouver and Toronto have also called for decriminalization as the number of overdose deaths increase, with Statistics Canada saying Tuesday that 10 Canadians fatally overdosed each day between 2016 and 2018.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wouldnt support decriminalization during a visit to B.C. in September 2017 while the provinces mental health and addictions minister, Judy Darcy, called the unprecedented number of deaths last year a "wake-up call" that should lead to a reconsideration of the federal governments position.