Canadian experts have warned of an alarming increase in opioid-related deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Toronto Public Health issued a warning on Friday after 15 overdose deaths were reported between July 9th and July 17th. Statistics show 15,393 people died from apparent drug overdoses between 2016 and 2019, with about a third of those deaths occurring in British Columbia. It is believed that this pandemic had caused a rise in overdose deaths at a time when the opioid crisis was beginning to be under control.
Ontario’s Provincial police said Monday that there had been an 81-per-cent increase in suspected overdose deaths within OPP jurisdiction since 2017. On the other hand, British Columbia’s coroner reported that 175 people died of suspected drug overdoses in the province in July, an increase of over 100 compared to last year. He said many people were choosing to inject themselves instead of going to a safe injection site amid the pandemic.
As a result of the escalating overdose deaths, demonstrations were held as part of International Overdose Awareness Day, which aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma surrounding overdose-related deaths in the world. Petra Schulz, one of the directors of Moms Stop the Harm.B.C.S, said they had more people dying from overdoses in many provinces than from COVID-19. Additionally, Adrienne Crowder, manager of the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy, said they’re concerned that the toxic, unregulated drug market was getting worse.