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Eby laments B.C.’s ‘troubling’ overdose numbers, as toxic drugs take 206 more lives

LANGLEY, B.C. — Premier David Eby says the latest overdose death numbers provided by the B.C. Coroners Service are “profoundly troubling” as the province continues to face the challenge of toxic illicit drugs.

The Coroners Service says toxic illicit drugs killed 206 people in B.C. in April, raising to 814 the number of overdose deaths so far this year.

Eby, who was in Langley, west of Vancouver, to announce the opening of a new elementary school, says the government’s aim of helping people get addiction treatment is up against the spectre of deadly illicit drugs circulating in communities.

Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe says fentanyl continues to be the main and most lethal driver of B.C.’s drug overdose crisis, with the involvement of the powerful opioid detected in 86 per cent of deaths last year and 79 per cent of deaths so far this year.

The Coroners Service report says fentanyl is almost always detected in combination with other substances.

Elenore Sturko, Opposition BC United mental health and addictions critic, says she wants the government to release more data about its drug supply and addiction treatment policies to help show what does and doesn’t work. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2023.

The Canadian Press