The ongoing opioid crisis continues to claim lives in Peterborough.
In 2019, 30 people died from a suspected opioid overdose death.
That number jumped to 37 last year and now sources tell Global News Peterborough, there were nine suspected overdose deaths in January 2021.
When Global News Peterborough inquired with the Peterborough Police Service and Peterborough Public Health about the recent numbers, we were told the data wouldn’t be disclosed as numbers are low enough to be identifiable leading to privacy concerns given the size of the community.
“We were reporting suspected poisonings (before). The partners, who are involved in local surveillance, so that would be our first responders, our hospital, police and ourselves, have decided to use that data for internal purposes right now,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, the health unit’s medical officer of health.
“That data is being shared confidentially between partners. We are using it as a way to ramp up or ramp down our harm reduction and our prevention efforts.”
“You don’t have to release the person’s name, but releasing the numbers gives a better sense of the picture,” said Taryn Grieder, an instructor at Trent University and Fleming College and medical expert in addictions and psychology at the University of Toronto.
Grieder tells Global News Peterborough the pandemic is playing a role in illicit drug use.
“Because of the stress from the pandemic, the isolation, people have financial concerns. We’re seeing crime increase. It’s all related,” Grieder said.
“Due to the pandemic, you don’t have your normal support network. You’re not supposed to be going out. That and the supply has changed. It’s being cut with more toxic chemicals which leads to more overdose deaths.”
On Jan. 21, PPH put out a public alert due to a recent increase in the number of drug poisonings.
“It’s not just opioid. The problem is the illicit drug supply has been contaminated by some of these opioids, such as fentanyl,” Dr. Salvaterra said.
“No one can really be sure right now if it’s an illicit product, if it can kill you.”
As for the application for the city’s first consumption treatment site, which would go in the former Greyhound station at Aylmer and Simcoe streets, there is still no update from the province.
Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith telling Global News in an email that he had nothing new that he could report.