Opioid-linked deaths are on the rise Canada-wide: Ottawa

Overdoses have been particularly bad in B.C.

The number of apparent opioid deaths in Canada in the first nine months of last year almost matched the figure for all of 2016.

The Public Health Agency of Canada released the grim figures on behalf of a special advisory committee set up to deal with the epidemic of overdoses from prescription opioids and highly toxic illegal drugs.

There were 2,946 deaths believed to stem from opioids across the country in 2016 and at least 2,923 from January to September of last year, the vast majority of them accidental, according to data made public Tuesday.

From January to September 2017, almost three-quarters of such fatalities involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues, compared with 55 per cent the year before. Fentanyl can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Authorities have identified China as a leading source of opioids entering North America and Canada is working closely with the United States and Mexico to address the issue.

More than 42,000 people died from overdosing on opioids in the United States in 2016. Officials in Washington and Ottawa are feverishly comparing notes.

“We have had a tremendous amount of dialogue since this issue has hit both our countries,” said James Walsh, deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, an arm of the U.S. State Department.

Walsh is in Ottawa this week to discuss the opioids crisis with Canadian and other G7 counterparts.

“This is a global problem. Our point to our colleagues in the G7 and our other colleagues around the world is that, if you’re not seeing this now, this is a new paradigm, so you need to be prepared,” Walsh said in an interview Tuesday.

“We need to be shouting from the rooftops that this is something that you do not want in your neighbourhood infecting your citizens.”

Fentanyl is a challenge because even a small amount may be deadly and it can be shipped via postal mail — sparking efforts by the United States and Canada to intercept such packages.

The RCMP has been working with the Chinese Ministry of State Security to address the flow of synthetic opioids into Canada, supported by renewal of a memorandum between the agencies on crime-fighting.

Canada says the Chinese government takes a consistently strong official stand against trafficking in illicit drugs and supports international co-operation to disrupt criminal activities.

Walsh said officials must deal head-on with “the synthetics coming out of China,” but he too had positive things to say about diplomatic efforts with Beijing.

“They can do more, but it is working.”

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Wildsight to host town hall meetings to discuss Retallack tenure proposal

A meeting will take place in Kimberley at Centre 64 on Monday, April 30 at 7p.m.

Montana fed up with B.C.’s selenium pollution

Wildsight questions selenium levels in Elk, Fording Rivers

VIDEO: Turtle Day at Elizabeth Lake

Turtle Day took place on Tuesday, April 24 at the Elizabeth Lake… Continue reading

Kimberley City Council approves funding allocations from CBT Community Initiatives Program

More than ten Kimberley organizations will receive funding.

Kimberley City Council discusses further reduction to flat tax

If approved, the flat tax will reduce by $80 in 2018.

Who’s gonna save the world?

A new song from local musicians who are standing up to support change.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Toronto sports fans come together in wake of van attack

Police probe Toronto van attack as details emerge

Prince William to be Harry’s best man

Prince William will be Prince Harry’s best man at May wedding

Humboldt arena memorial ring to be removed

Arena ring of tribute to Saskatchewan hockey team to be removed as summer nears

14 galaxies set to collide and form colossal cluster

Astronomers say this could be the largest structures in the universe

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

Ailing health care biggest hurdle for Okanagan jail

PART SIX: Inmates reportedly wait weeks for broken bones to be seen, challenges with maintaining medical staff

Police searching for escaped prisoner in B.C.

Ralph Whitfield Morris, 83, is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder

Most Read