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B.C. reports 179 toxic drug deaths for October, advocates renew calls for safe supply

Click to play video: 'October sees 179 toxic drug deaths in B.C.'
October sees 179 toxic drug deaths in B.C.
Watch: More than six years after the overdose crisis was declared a public health emergency in B.C., it shows no sign of slowing down – Nov 30, 2022

The number of deaths due to toxic drugs continues to rise, the BC Coroners Service said Wednesday.

A statement from the coroner said at least 179 lives were lost to toxic drugs in October — an average of 5.8 deaths per day, and eight more than in September.

The total fatalities in the first 10 months of the year have reached 1,827.

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Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said that despite many efforts to reverse the deadly toll, an increasingly toxic and variable illicit drug supply means everyone, from casual users to those dealing with addiction, is at extreme risk.

BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said the latest numbers from the coroner about illicit drug deaths indicate the province must immediately expand its safe supply program.

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A statement from Furstenau said the provincial government is not doing enough to slow the number of deaths linked to toxic drugs, and that she wants B.C. Premier David Eby to clearly state a plan.

Furstenau said if Eby “truly wants to save lives, he would introduce widely accessible safe supply.” Safe supply refers to the legal provision of a regulated supply of drugs.

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Guy Felicella, a B.C. opioid crisis advocate and a spokesperson for the BC Centre on Substance Use, said the latest number should be a wake-up call for safe supply and more safe consumption sites across the province.

“For me, it’s predictable but also preventable and we just haven’t done enough,” Felicella said.

“When you look at all the harm reduction services, especially in the Downtown Eastside, they still have one of the highest rates of overdose deaths. It really shows how lethal the drug supply is.”

“What I would like to see is the government move away from the medical model and move towards more of an anonymous model, where someone can go in and get regulated drugs,” he added.

“People need to know exactly what they are consuming.”

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No deaths were reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites, according to the province.

Click to play video: 'Overdose and drug toxicity report makes dozens of recommendations'
Overdose and drug toxicity report makes dozens of recommendations

With files from Canadian Press.

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