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British Columbia

Toxic drug supply claims 177 lives in B.C. in February: Coroners Service

VICTORIA — The BC Coroners Service says 177 people died in February due to “toxic, unregulated drugs.”

The service says at least 175 people have died because of the toxic drug supply in each of the last 20 consecutive months.

It says the latest numbers are down 11 per cent compared with February 2023, but the province still saw an average of about six deaths per day this past February. 

A statement released by the Public Safety Ministry says the overdose death rate in B.C. is still “significantly elevated,” with 40.1 deaths per 100,000 residents in the first two months of this year. 

The statement says that’s double the rate seen in 2016, when the province first declared a public health emergency over toxic drug deaths and since then more than 14,200 people have died. 

The ministry says fentanyl or other strong opioids were found in around 80 per cent of overdose deaths, along with other substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine, and the majority of deaths result from “mixed drug toxicity.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2024. 

The Canadian Press

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