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More than 1,500 fatal drug overdoses in BC over nine months

“I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that it was dropping people.”

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The latest report released by the BC Coroners Service shows more than 1,500 people in British Columbia have died of illicit drug overdoses in the first nine months of the year — with 333 lives lost in August and September alone.

“Once again, we are reporting record numbers of deaths in our province due to the toxic illicit drug supply,” said Dr. Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

“The tremendous loss being felt by families and communities across BC as they mourn loved ones lost far too soon is heartbreaking.”

There was a total of 1,734 fatal overdoses for all of 2020, which at the time was a recorded high in BC, but despite the incessant cycle of arresting and releasing low to mid-level dealers, the province is back on track for another record-breaking year.

The 1,534 drug deaths thus far in 2021 are the most seen in the first nine months of any previous year in BC.

Toxicology results indicate that the illicit drug supply in BC is both “volatile and increasingly toxic,” with fentanyl and its analogues detected in 84% of all illicit toxicity deaths in 2021.

Carfentanil, a particularly potent chemical often used in veterinary medicine to anesthetize large animals such as elephants and bears, has been detected in 137 deaths.

The vast majority of toxicological results indicate the presence of multiple substances.

A recovered heroin user from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) told the Western Standard that when someone dies of an overdose, other users “flock to the source,” as the recent death indicates a particularly strong supply — further incentivizing the poisoning of one’s product.

The main incentive for dealers is the mere simplicity of getting synthetic opioids into the country compared to other drugs. Fentanyl, which is roughly 100 times stronger than morphine can turn over a substantial profit while taking up as much space as a small envelope, thus mitigating the risk as opposed to primarily smuggling large quantities of heroin from Southeast Asia.

“I kept it cool for the longest time, but things got interesting when fentanyl first came around in like 2011,” a former drug dealer with Redd Alert, a First Nations gang, told the Western Standard.

“I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that it was dropping people. I started selling opiates around 2012, but I was selling real heroine, not fentanyl.”

The former gangster said synthetic opioids were killing users in high volume for at least five years without mainstream recognition, going “unnoticed until it started affecting middle to upper-class people.”

By 2016, fentanyl was regularly making headlines after it began turning up in cocaine and pressed pills being sold as pharmaceutical benzodiazepines.

Even when police successfully infiltrate the upper echelons of black market hierarchies, the overall impact it has on illicit drug distribution seems to be minuscule — the result being nothing more than a violent power vacuum leading to an increase in both overdoses and gang violence.

“Our province is in the sixth year of this public health emergency, and the death rate due to toxic drugs has never been higher,” Lapointe said.

Additional key preliminary findings reported by the BC Coroner Service:

  • 71% of those who have died as a result of suspected drug toxicity in 2021 were between 30 and 59, and 79% were male.
  • The number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in August and September 2021 is equal to about 5.5 deaths per day.
  • By Health Service Delivery Area, in 2021, the highest rates were in Vancouver, Thompson Cariboo, Northwest, North Vancouver Island and Fraser East.
  • By Local Health Area, in 2021, the highest rates were in Upper Skeena, Lillooet, Merritt, North Thompson and Hope.
  • Deaths due to drug toxicity remain the leading cause of unnatural death in BC.

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Barry Williams

    November 9, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    We need more reality TV cameras on our border with china so we can figure out where the heck this stuff is coming from comrades!

  2. Left Coast

    November 9, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    Just watched Dr. Bonnie Henry on the TV telling us about the Delta Variant filling the Hospitals in Europe. But the dizzy b’ach neglected to tell the folks that the majority of those in Hospital in Britain and many other countries were the VAXED. They she whined about the Un-vaxed with not a mention of Natural Immunity which likely over 1.5 Million in BC have.

    2218 people have died WITH Covid in BC . . . the Number who died FROM Covid is likely a fraction of that. Italy has just revised their numbers and the result is interesting.

    Meanwhile 41,150 people died in BC from ALL causes last year and the Drug Deaths spiked in 2020 by over 1000 and no one cared. 2021 looks like it is going to be just as bad.

    Suicides hit 609 in 2020 and will likely be higher in 2021 . . . and our Provincial Health authorities are still drumming up Fake Cases with the PCR Test.

    The average age of Covid Deaths is still near 80 . . . and the Govt Tyrants have been locking down & Vaccinating the Healthy Population, including Children which is insane.

    When does the light go on for these Clowns in Victoria?

  3. Baron Not Baron

    November 9, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    Not necessarily a bad thing IMO

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News

Bernier tickled with support from Trudeau’s half brother

“It’s very dangerous to speak like that, coming from the leader of a democratic country, you cannot speak like that,” said Bernier.

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People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier was presently surprised on Friday to learn Justin Trudeau’s half-brother is cheering for the PPC.

During the presser, Bernier was told of the Western Standard‘s hour-long interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s half-brother Kyle Kemper who — among other things — called out Trudeau for his divisive speech towards unvaccinated Canadians.

During the interview, Kemper also showed support for the People’s Party of Canada.

When Bernier was asked how he felt about a Trudeau family member propping up the Purple Wave, he said he was “surprised to hear a member of the Trudeau family is cheering for the PPC” and said he agreed with Kemper that Trudeau has been divisive.

“It’s very dangerous to speak like that, coming from the leader of a democratic country, you cannot speak like that,” said Bernier.

“We, at the PPC, we want to unite everybody under the freedom umbrella. We don’t believe in division and segregation.

“This party is growing and I know that the mainstream media don’t like to cover the PPC because we are telling the truth based on facts and on science.”

In the Friday press conference, Bernier said he speaks for millions of Canadians with his one message to the government: “We want our lives back.”

Despite the vast majority of Canadian’s being vaccinated, Bernier showed frustration over the remaining COVID-19 measures, “from vaccine mandates to lockdowns and vaccine passports.”

The PPC leader also pointed to the recent lifting of mandates and restrictions in a number of European countries and elsewhere.

“Canada is becoming the outlier. Not only do we still have most of these measures in place, but some governments are planning to add more,” said Bernier referencing his home province of Quebec bringing in a “punitive tax” against the unvaccinated.

Bernier calls the “science” into question and suggested there is evidence the “authoritarian measures” have little to no effect on the spread of COVID-19 while imposing “massive negative economic and health impacts on the population.”  

“Both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated can catch and spread the virus. Vaccine passports are completely useless,” said Bernier.

Over the coming days, Bernier said he plans to join the trucker’s Freedom Convoy in Ottawa and support those protesting the vaccine mandate calling it a “blatant example of the unscientific approach adopted by the federal government.”

“Unvaccinated cross-border truckers have been providing an essential service to the Canadian economy for two years. That’s why they were exempt from the border closures,” said Bernier.

“They pose no threat to anyone. They’re alone in their trucks most of the time. There is no crisis because of sick truckers. So why are they suddenly being forced off the road with a new vaccine mandate?”

Calling Canada’s supply chain “more fragile than ever,” Bernier called the Canadian and US governments “irresponsible” and said there is no logic behind adding further needless disruptions.

“More and more Canadians, vaccinated and unvaccinated, want an end to this nightmare. The tide is turning. It’s time to stop living in fear and learn to live with this virus.”

Bernier followed with a list of requests for the Liberal government.

“First, repeal the vaccine mandates on federal employees and federally regulated industries,” said Bernier.

He also said he believes all civil servants, military personnel and government employees should be reinstated and federal regulated industries be instructed to rehire employees who were “unjustly fired.”

For those unjustly fired who don’t want to return to their former jobs, Bernier said they should be given “any severance package and unemployment benefits that a terminated employee normally receives.”

“Second, repeal all travel restrictions on planes, trains and boats for unvaccinated Canadians. These measures are useless and are a violation of our basic constitutional rights.

“Third, the government should stop bailing out provinces that devastate their economy with lockdowns, curfews, vaccine passports, and vaccine mandates.”

Bernier blamed the federal government for influencing provinces to implement COVID-19 measures with the “billions of dollars of borrowed and printed money sent by Ottawa through various programs.”

“Provincial governments should be responsible for their own decisions. If they want to impose destructive measures, they should be accountable to their own citizens,” said Bernier.

Bernier also took time to congratulate Conservative MPs including deputy leader Candice Bergen and Finance critic Pierre Poilievre who have opposed “the government’s authoritarian measures after two years of silence,” while accusing O’Toole of supporting Trudeau’s decisions throughout the pandemic.

Calling the Conservative Party of Canada a “morally and intellectually corrupt party,” Bernier suggested the “door is open” for any who would like to join the People’s Party.

Bernier said he is looking forward to the next general election and his opportunity to debate the other leaders on stage.

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

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AHS researched COVID manipulation tactics

Other studies linked being female and those with higher incomes with being more compliant while political conservatism was linked to those less compliant.

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An Alberta Health Services (AHS) document featuring the results of a number of studies focused on attitudes and adherence to COVID-19 guidelines has been obtained by the Western Standard.

The 63-page report dated September 2020 focused on factors that “impact attitudes towards or adherence to COVID-19 public health guidelines” and on “what interventions can create more positive attitudes towards following public health guidelines.”

It included data collected from 30 studies compiled from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand — jurisdictions considered to be somewhat similar to Alberta.

A list of key messages from the evidence summary include:

• Studies consistently show higher adherence to COVID-19 guidelines among people who (i) trust government or authorities; (ii) perceive the threat of the virus to be greater; (iii) have a greater knowledge of the pandemic, (iv) who are older; and (v) who identify as a woman.

• Accessing information through traditional news media (print; television; radio) is associated with greater guideline adherence, while use of social media is associated with a higher likelihood of endorsing conspiracy beliefs, factual misperceptions and lesser degrees of guideline adherence.

• Limited evidence suggests that distinct population groups may require distinct messaging to promote guideline adherence.

• No strategies for promoting adherence to public health COVID-19 guidelines have been robustly proven in the published scientific literature. The most promising strategies appear to be communications to increase knowledge about the pandemic and perceived threat of the virus. Moralistic messaging (e.g.linking physical distancing to being a good person/citizen) could produce problematic consequences such as ostracization of individuals who do not adhere to public health guidelines.

• As evidence on changing attitudes and behaviours related to COVID-19 is still emerging, medical and public health leaders may benefit from reviewing literature on attitude and behaviour change in other, more widely studied health and societal contexts (e.g., climate change, waste reduction, vaccination or smoking cessation) where theories and frameworks have been established.

Recommendations stemming from the study included targeting those with limited knowledge of the pandemic or those that weren’t convinced of the efficacy of public health guidelines as they are “more likely to exhibit consistently poor adherence.”

The groups identified in the study with the “higher risk of non-adherence” to the guidelines include “men, younger people, those who identify as politically conservative, and those who are prone to lower levels of trust in government or science.”

The study also recommended public health content be distributed on social media because “multiple studies found that social media users were less likely to be adherent to public health guidelines.”

The recommendations also suggested officials work with “behavioural scientists and experts in communication sciences” to craft public health messaging designed to influence behaviour change.

Other findings in the report said adherence to guidelines was related to individual characteristics such as narcissism, impulsiveness and agreeableness or societal characteristics such as individualism or collectivism.

A number of factors were listed categorizing their impact on attitude toward adherence to public health guidelines.

For instance, a greater trust in government or authority predicted greater compliance. Other studies linked being female and those with higher incomes with being more compliant while political conservatism was linked to those less compliant.

Also included in the report is a breakdown of how political affiliation affected people’s attitudes towards the virus and public health measures.

“They report that supporters of the Liberal Party are more likely to be very concerned about the virus (46%) than those who support the Conservative Party (39%), Bloc Quebecois (33%), and People’s Party of Canada (PPC) (29%),” said the report.

“Supporters of the Liberal, Green, and New Democratic Parties were slightly more likely to report making behaviour changes (making 63% of recommended changes, on average) than supporters of the Conservative Party (59% of changes), PPC (51%), and Bloc Quebecois (60%).”

A section on research gaps points to a number of important areas that have been “underexplored” including the impact of tailoring specific messaging to particular subgroups such as the Hutterite populations, First Nations Peoples and those experiencing homelessness.

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

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New collective agreement secures Alberta nurses as highest paid in Canada

UNA has filed more than 150 grievances on behalf of its members related to AHS’ Immunization or Testing of Workers for COVID-19 policy.

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Alberta Finance Travis Toews has announced Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) have ratified a new collective agreement that will see a 4.25% pay raise for Alberta nurses.

UNA said the new collective agreement involves more than 30,000 registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses, represented by 130 UNA locals. The pay raise — spread out over the four-year deal — will keep Alberta nurses among the highest paid in Canada.

“I am pleased to hear that registered nurses have voted to accept the mediator’s recommendation. This four-year labour agreement comes after many months of dedicated negotiations,” said Toews.

“Alberta’s nurses have played a critical role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re deeply appreciative of the role they have played in caring for our friends, families and neighbours over the past two difficult years.”

As part of the new collective agreement, UNA said nurses will receive a one-time lump payment of 1% in recognition of their pandemic efforts, as well as enhanced psychological and mental health supports. UNA also said semi-annual lump-sum payments will be convereted to the wage grid.

“I also applaud the parties in arriving at an agreement that recognizes and works to address the unique labour market realities facing Alberta and North America in the recruitment and retention of registered nurses,” said Toews.

The new agreement will allot $5 million annually to recruiting and retaining staff in rural and remote Alberta. It also comes with the creation of a union-employer provincial workload advisory committee with $2.5 million allocated to relocation assistance.

AHS President and CEO, Dr. Verna Yiu brought in a mandatory COVID-19 immunization plan or AHS staff late last year. Approximately 1,650 full-and part-time AHS staff were subsequently put on involuntary leave without pay for noncompliance.

AHS was forced to walk back the mandate by providing testing options for some staff after critical staffing shortages, particularly in rural Alberta. The agency’s website details province-wide notices of physician and volunteer shortages. Red alerts due to EMS staffing shortages are also on the rise.

UNA is has filed more than 150 grievances on behalf of its members related to AHS’ Immunization or Testing of Workers for COVID-19 policy.

UNA deemed the policy “unfair, unreasonable, and discriminatory, and inconsistent with the UNA-Multi-Employer Collective Agreement.”

Amber Gosselin is a reporter with the Western Standard.
agosselin@westernstandardonline.com


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