(© Can Stock Photo / Sheri_Armstrong)(© Can Stock Photo / Sheri_Armstrong)

Opioid deaths keep climbing across Canada

A new report by the Public Health Agency of Canada showed that more than 10,300 Canadians have died from opioids over the past three years.

The agency said 93 per cent of the 3,286 opioid-related deaths between January and September of 2018 were accidental. The data suggested that 75 per cent of those deaths occurred among men, the majority in their 30s, and 73 per cent of them involved fentanyl or other fentanyl-related substances.

"Canada continues to experience a serious opioid crisis. Across the country, it is having devastating effects on families and communities," the report read. "The Public Health Agency of Canada works closely with the provinces and territories to collect and share data on apparent opioid-related deaths. Accurate information about the crisis is needed to help guide efforts to reduce opioid-related harms and deaths."

Ontario had the second most number of deaths with 1,031 reported from January to September last year. British Columbia led the way with 1,155 opioid-related deaths. The report showed the number of deaths spiked in Ontario during the last two summers and the opioid death rate across Canada kept increasing every year. The Public Health Agency of Canada said it has jumped from 8.4 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 11.8 per 100,000 people in 2018.

"The data indicates that the vast majority of apparent opioid-related deaths were of individuals who did not intend to die," the Public Health Agency of Canada said. "This distinction is important to inform an appropriate public health response."

The agency added the high percent of unintended deaths reinforces the concern that a variety of street drugs are tainted with toxic substances, such as fentanyl, without drug users knowing it.

The Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy group (WECOSS) will release its 2018 report on Friday. The report will highlight some of the key accomplishments during the first year. A new website will also be formally launched on Friday.

The WECOSS group was formed to address and reduce the rates of opioid and substance-related harms, overdoses, and deaths in the Windsor-Essex region.

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