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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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Police on the hunt for armed killer who gunned down man in Coquitlam Park

Dozens of witnesses potentially saw the shooting occur.

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Police are calling on the public to help them locate the person responsible for killing a 20-year-old man next to a basketball court, where there may have been more than a dozen witnesses.

On April 19, about 6:30 p.m., Coquitlam RCMP members rushed to Town Centre Park to investigate calls of a shooting.

When police arrived, they found Bailey McKinney lying on the ground. He was pronounced dead at scene.

“We believe this was a case of an individual being targeted for murder and not the park itself,” said Sgt. Frank Jang, of the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT).

“Unfortunately, we know too well that these types of events can happen in any community.”

IHIT has control of the investigation and is working closely with the Coquitlam RCMP, the Integrated Forensic Identification Services and the B.C. Coroners Service to gather evidence.

Now police are looking for anyone who might have seen something, or has other information that would help Mounties nab a suspect.

“We are aware that there were several people in the immediate area when the shooting occurred,” Jang said.

“Many of them fled the scene, understandably, from the shock of having witnessed a shooting. However, if you were one of those people, we need you to come forward now.”

McKinney was known to police, and cops said he had conflict with certain individuals who may be responsible for his murder.

McKinney was due to be in court next month for a litany of charges — including drug charges and assault with a weapon, to using a firearm during a criminal offence, and uttering threats to kill or cause bodily harm — acquired late September when he was involved in crimes in Coquitlam.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) or by email at ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.
mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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They’re home! Police give pupdate on stolen bulldog babies

Three American Bulldog puppies were stolen April 10 during a break and enter.

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With dogged determination, Surrey Mounties have recovered the last two of three puppies stolen 10 days ago.

Three American Bulldog puppies were stolen April 10 during a break and enter at a home in the 17400 block of 8 Avenue.

One of the three stolen pups was quickly returned to the owners two days later, on April 12, when officers, acting on public tips, located one of the puppies that had been sold to an unwary attendee at a car show in Mission, BC.

Then, four days ago, Surrey RCMP Property Crime Target Team found the remaining two puppies. The wee pooches were returned to their owner and then reunited with their mom.
 
RCMP did not give details of the rescue, but did note the owners are very grateful to the public.

“Everyone feels good about being able to return these little pups to their family, and it was made even better by the fact we did it with help from the public,” said Cpl. Dan Barrows, of the Surrey RCMP Property Crime Target Team, said in a release.

“This was a rewarding investigation for our officers.”

The puppies — valued at about $3,000 apiece — were last seen snuggling their mom.

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard. mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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B.C. father of transgender girl to appeal sentence and fine

The father reached a plea bargain deal for a 45-day sentence and 18 months probation – but B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Tammen decided to sentence C.D. to six months in jail.

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The B.C. father of a teenaged girl given male hormones against his wishes will appeal his sentence and fine for criminal contempt of court.

C.D., as he was known in court documents, pleaded guilty to the charges last week and was sentenced on Friday. He defied orders not disclose details that would reveal his child’s identity or that of the doctors responsible for cross-gender treatment. 

The father reached a plea bargain deal with prosecutors who recommended a 45-day sentence and 18 months probation. However, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Tammen decided instead to sentence C.D. to six months in jail.

C.D.’s lawyer Carey Linde told the Western Standard he hopes to get his client out on bail while he appeals the sentence.

“We’re doing the bureaucratic steps to try to get him out,” Linde said.

“It depends on what the Crown’s position is going to be. And they’re not going to take a position until they can read the judgment. And the judgment has not been posted yet.”

Linde believes the sentence is excessive, especially given the plea deal.

“The responses that I’m getting from lawyers who are criminal lawyers say that…it’s absurd,” Linde said.

In his decision, Tammen said: “I do not accept (the father’s) intention was otherwise than to attempt to undermine the authority of the courts and overall administration of justice… Moreover, I expressly reject (the father’s) sworn assertion … that he had no desire to share information that would harm (the child).”

Linde said: “The judge has gone off the deep end of law and order. Why? He gave a very reasoned argument, if you agree with him…justifying draconian measures.”

In his decision, Tammen said: “No member of the public can decide when, in what circumstances and which court orders to follow… Unless and until successfully appealed, court orders must be obeyed. They are part of the legal fabric of society and, thus, the law. Without the ability to enforce court orders, and if citizens were free to disregard them at will, there would not be democracy but anarchy.”

Linde believes Tammen never grasped what his client tried to do.

“He never understood it. He kept coming back and talking about you can’t avoid punishment, people aren’t free to go out and break the law because they think it goes against their conscience. But that’s not what civil disobedience is, Civil disobedience, says, ‘I do this in the knowledge and the acceptance of being punished.’ So my client always knew that he would get something.”

In court, C.D. said, “I’ve never once gone after my child for the choice she made wanting to be a male…I only tried to prevent her from making a medical choice she might regret later.”

When asked if he planned to continue his campaign in the future, the father said he had already done his part, adding, “I pass the torch on.”

Tammen granted C.D.’s 46 days jailed in pre-trial custody to count towards the 180-day sentence. C.D.’s crowdfunding website, which contained materials in breach of the court orders, had raised more than $50,000. Tammen instructed the father to donate $30,000 to a children’s charity within six months of his release from jail. Linde also plans to appeal the fine.

Linde said his client’s goal was to raise public awareness on “the school programs [that teach gender fluidity and transgender concepts]; the Infants Act, which allows doctors to do what they’re doing legally; and rapid onset gender dysphoria…You and I are talking, where we wouldn’t have two years ago. These things are moving.”

When asked about his client’s mood following the long sentence, Linde said,

“Obviously, he’s not happy, he would rather it didn’t happen…He doesn’t object to being sentenced…[but feels] he’s been singled out somehow, misunderstood…

“He pled guilty. And his evidence was that he had accomplished what he set out to accomplish. He never asked for any of this. He was a defendant…And he just wants to go back to live as much as he can the life he had before all this happened to him.”

Harding is a Western Standard reporter based in Saskatchewan

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