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B.C. recorded 1,716 fatal drug overdoses in 2020

B.C.’s Chief Coroner, Lisa Lapointe is worried some people are turning a blind eye to the tragedy unfolding.

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B.C. health officials said 1,716 deaths were due to illicit drug overdoses in 2020.

That upward trend continued into 2021, with 165 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in January — the largest number of alleged overdoses recorded in any January.

The 165 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths represent a 104 per cent increase over the number of deaths occurring in January 2020 (81) and a 7 per cent increase in deaths occurring in December 2020 (154).

According to November 2020 data, approximately 83 per cent of illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. in 2020 had fentanyl detected, or 1,288 of 1,548 deaths, based on preliminary data and pending further results.

B.C.’s Chief Coroner, Lisa Lapointe, called 2020 “the most tragic year” for overdoses.

“Fentanyl is the toxic substance that is causing all of these deaths,” said Lapointe, who cites there is no quality control in the production of fentanyl.

“We’re particularly concerned about the toxicity of the drugs detected in many of the deaths recorded in January,” said Lapointe, as the findings indicate an already unstable drug supply in B.C. is worsening.

The pandemic disrupted the production of fentanyl, and the chemicals used are harder to find with pandemic border closures, which means that criminals are swapping in other lethal substances.

Lapointe said this underscores the urgent need for supervised consumption options, prescribing for safe supply, and accessible treatment and recovery services — with the latter accessed less throughout the pandemic.

Among the drug types involved in completed illicit drug toxicity death investigations, illicit fentanyl had increased from 5 per cent in 2012 to 82 per cent in 2020.

“It is astounding to me there isn’t more outrage amongst everybody in this country that so many of us are dying,” Lapointe said, who is worried some people are turning a blind eye to the tragedy unfolding.

In 2021, 85 per cent of illicit drug toxicity deaths occurred indoors, with 56 per cent in private residences and 30 per cent in other dwellings, including social and supportive housing, shelters, hotels and other indoor locations.

Thirteen per cent occurred outside in vehicles, sidewalks, streets, parks, etc.

No deaths were reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

“There is a frustration that this many people can die in our province. Well over 6,000 people in the last five years,” said Lapointe.

“In the fifth year of this public health emergency, there is virtually no community in the province that this devastating loss of life hasn’t touched.

“These figures are heartbreaking, both in scale and for the number of families who are grieving the loss of a loved one.”

The number of fatal overdoses in January 2021 equates to 5.3 deaths per day, with 70 per cent of the deaths from the age 30 to 59 demographic.

Males accounted for 83 per cent of deaths in 2021.

The townships experiencing the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2021 are Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.

Overall, the rate in BC is 38 deaths per 100,000 individuals in 2021.

Dhaliwal is the Western Standard’s Edmonton reporter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Left Coast

    March 9, 2021 at 9:24 am

    Drug Death increases in 2020 equaled Flu Deaths . . . and the inept Health Minister & the “Never had a Real Job” Premier did nothing . . .

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BREAKING: Omicron found in Alberta

On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced 156 Albertans self-quarantining after returning from travel in a country that had been hit with Omicron.

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The tentacles of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have reached Alberta.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said an Albertan returning home from Nigeria, via the Netherlands, has tested positive for Omicron.

Hinshaw said they tested positive a week ago and the person, who traveled alone, is now self-quarantining.

She said medical officials are trying to “delay” the spread of the variant until more research is done.

But Hinshaw refused to say where the traveller lives over fear it would identify them.

Hinshaw also urged people not to take out their frustrations against the family of the infected person nor the countries that are under an Omicron watch.

And she said people shouldn’t “think of this as a reset to Ground Zero.”

In her daily update, Hinshaw said in the last 24 hours, health officials have found 238 new cases of coronavirus. There are 434 people in the hospital with 81 in ICU. Another six people are reported to have succumbed to the virus.

On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced 156 Albertans self-quarantining after returning from travel in a country that had been hit with Omicron.

Six confirmed cases of the variant of concern have now been confirmed in Canada so far.

Earlier in the day, Canada added Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt to its Omicron travel ban.

On Friday, the government put restrictions on travellers from South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

“Obviously we’re watching very, very closely the situation with Omicron,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on his way into the cabinet meeting.

“There may be more we need to do and we’ll be looking at it very carefully.”

More to come…

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Unvaxxed grounded in Canada

As of November 30, travellers will no longer be allowed to submit a negative test result in place of proof of vaccination to board a plane or train in Canada.

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As of Tuesday, Canadian travellers over the age of 12 will no longer be able to fly or travel by train in Canada without proof of vaccination.

The policy was originally set to come into effect on October 30, however, the federal government announced it would grant a grace period to unvaccinated travellers allowing for a negative COVID-19 test to be provided within 72 hours of the trip.

As of November 30, travellers will no longer be allowed to submit a negative test result in place of proof of vaccination to board a plane or train in Canada.

The new travel restrictions for the unvaccinated come on the heels of the emergence of a new variant of concern (VOC) dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Cases involving the new variant, originally detected in South Africa, have been found in other countries including five cases within Canada.

Although there is not much known about the new variant at this time, the WHO confirmed scientists around the world are working to determine how the highly-mutated variant will affect transmissibility and severity of illness in the population.

Canada, along with other nations, closed its boards and expanded its screening protocols to travellers arriving from affected areas in southern Africa.

The Canadian airline industry welcomed the vaccine mandates when they were announced in October. Air Canada and West Jet have both confirmed they will be asking all travellers to produce proof of vaccination before boarding their carriers as of Tuesday.

While health measures such as masking and screening will still be required, no measures for quarantining individual travellers have been put in place with the exception of those who have travelled through or arrived from southern Africa.

“If you indicate to your airline or railway company that you’re eligible to board, but fail to provide proof of vaccination or valid COVID-19 test result, you won’t be allowed to travel and could face penalties or fines,” the government indicated in a statement.

The Canadian government is also warning permanent residents abroad to expect to provide vaccine passports to return home.

The rules don’t apply to commuter trains.

The Government of Canada has created a “reliable way to show proof of your COVID-19 vaccination history when travelling internationally and within Canada,” states the government’s website. The document is verified once uploaded to ArriveCAN upon returning to the country.

The website warns travellers are not guaranteed entry to another country with the documents and suggests checking the rules of your destination country and the countries you travel through.

“Today, Canada passed a sad milestone in its history,” said Matt Slatter, a pilot with a major Canadian airline and a founder of Free 2 Fly, a hub that has “Canadian aviation professionals standing with passengers in defence of freedom.”

“No longer can it hold itself as a beacon of freedom and liberal values.”

The Free 2 Fly website encourages passengers and airline workers who “feel strongly that the ability to travel should not be linked to vaccination status,” to sign up and join their movement.

“With the advent of mandates requiring all aviation and rail passengers to be vaccinated, Canada is now effectively a two-tier society,” said Slatter.

“On one tier, compliant citizens are afforded many of the rights they once enjoyed in a free society. While the other tier is essentially relegated to their own localities, with limited exception.

“History suggests this style of governance will only lead to more tragedy and heartbreak. The cure is inevitably worse than the disease. Will Canada learn from the mistakes of the past?”

Currently, there are just under 38,000 signed up on the Free 2 Fly site. One of the goals of the group is to “wage a legal campaign to block, and/or overturn, all vaccination mandates.”

Melanie Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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CRTC trying to hang up on spoof calls

Caller ID spoofing occurs when callers hide or misrepresent their identity by displaying fictitious or altered phone numbers when making calls.

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All those calls from the taxman and Canadian Border Services officials threatening to arrest you could soon be coming to an end thanks to new regulations from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

“Many Canadians are now able to determine which calls can be trusted thanks to a new technology aimed at combating spoofed calls named STIR/SHAKEN. Caller ID spoofing is frequently used in nuisance and fraudulent calls to mask the identity of the caller,” said the CRTC in a release.

“As of today, telecommunications service providers will certify whether a caller’s identity can be trusted by verifying the caller ID information for Internet Protocol-based voice calls. This new technology will help reduce the frequency and impact of caller ID spoofing. As service providers continue to upgrade their IP networks and offer compatible phones to their customers, more and more Canadians will be able to see the effects of STIR/SHAKEN.”

It’s believed up to 25% of all calls in Canada are scams.

The CRTC said Caller ID spoofing occurs when callers hide or misrepresent their identity by displaying fictitious or altered phone numbers when making calls.

“This new caller ID technology will empower Canadians to determine which calls are legitimate and worth answering, and which need to be treated with caution. As more providers upgrade their networks, STIR/SHAKEN will undoubtedly reduce spoofing and help Canadians regain peace of mind when answering phone calls,” said Ian Scott, CRTC CEO.

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