The opioid crisis claimed more than 10,000 Canadian lives in under three years, according to new quarterly numbers released by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The numbers show that between January 2016 and September 2018, there were 10,337 apparent opioid-related deaths across Canada. In the first nine months of 2018 alone, 3,286 Canadians overdosed.
The third quarter of 2018 was the deadliest quarter since PHAC first started reporting opioid deaths in 2016 — 1,162 people died between July and September 2018.
“The data show that fentanyl and other fentanyl-related substances continue to be a major driver of this crisis,” wrote PHAC in a press release. So far, in the 2018 data, 73 per cent of accidental opioid deaths involved fentanyl. Roughly the same number also involved other non-opioid drugs — meaning that people were taking more than one substance, either accidentally or on purpose.
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Fentanyl was involved in a relatively low proportion of opioid-related deaths in Quebec and eastward into the Atlantic provinces, though, making up only a third or less of accidental deaths.
B.C. continues to see the highest total number of opioid-related deaths, with 1,155 in the first three quarters of 2018. Ontario is second with 1,031.
Three-quarters of accidental opioid-related deaths were among men in 2018, and young and middle-aged people accounted for the majority of accidental deaths.
“The data released today remind us of the significant impact the opioid crisis is having on Canadians from all walks of life and from all across our country,” said Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor in a statement. “Each death is a tragedy that takes its toll on families, friends and communities.”