Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall says the increase in heroin and related overdose deaths requires rapid reporting of cases.

B.C. declares fentanyl drug overdose emergency

Overdoses involving fentanyl now up to a third of cases, as synthetic drug mixed with heroin, cocaine and marijuana

The B.C. government has declared its first-ever public health emergency to deal with the sharply rising cases of opioid drug overdoses across the province.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said the measure will allow for rapid collection of data from health authorities and the B.C. Coroners’ Service, so overdose treatment kits can be deployed to regions where there are new clusters of outbreaks.

Overdoses have been mainly clustered in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, but cases have increased in the Okanagan and Vancouver Island as well. Kendall said there is no area of the province unaffected, and that is why he is using the authority to declare an emergency for the first time in B.C. history.

There has been a steady increase in overdoses of drugs containing fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid made in Chinese drug labs and smuggled to Canada. It has been found mixed with heroin, cocaine and even marijuana sold on the streets in B.C.

There were 474 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. in 2015, a 30 per cent increase over 2014.

Health Minister Terry Lake said kits containing an overdose treatment called naloxone have been made available to paramedics, firefighters and police, but the alarming rise in cases means more action is needed.

“We have to do what’s needed to prevent overdoses and deaths, and what’s needed is real-time information,” Lake said. “Medical health officers need immediate access to what’s happening and where so they can deploy the necessary strategies to prevent these tragedies.”

• In Fraser Health region, the BC Coroners Service recorded 29 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 49 in 2015 and 19 in the first three months of 2016.

• In the Metro Health region, there were 26 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 47 in 2015 and 18 in the first three months of 2016.

• In the Island health region, there were 17 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 22 in 2015 and nine in the first three months of 2016.

• In the Interior health region, there were nine fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 21 in 2015 and 15 in the first three months of 2016.

• In the Northern health region, there were 10 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, 14 in 2015 and three in the first three months of 2016.

Just Posted

Tofino Shorebird Festival ready for flight

Annual event raises awareness of tiny travellers

Snowbirds fly over Tofino and Ucluelet

“We had front row seats.”

West Coast fishers see empty seas, demand Pacific Salmon Treaty funding

“Right now, if this continues, I think most fishermen will be bankrupt in a couple of years.”

Ucluelet mayor says pipeline and spill response plan both needed

“We are a society that cannot exist without oil and gas and plastics at this point in time.”

Tofino and Ucluelet host youth soccer tournament

Teams from Port Alberni and Nanaimo travel in for one-day sporting event.

Could facial scans and fingerprints make you unhackable?

New biometrics capabilities could be a game-changer for those trying to get on your accounts

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

4-20: Pot activists continue their fight beyond legalization

Cannabis activists say there is still a lot to fight for beyond legalization

Comey memos: Trump talks of jailed journalists and ‘hookers’

A 15 page document written by former FBI Director James Comey about dealings with Trump is released to press

UPDATED: Prince Charles to be next Commonwealth leader

Prince Charles to succeed his mother Queen Elizabeth II as head of the 53-nation alliance

U.S. team wins BC Hockey League championship for first time in 39 years

B.C. players help the Wenatchee Wild defeat Prince George in best-of-seven series

Robot caretakers could be in your future

If the idea of a sex robot made heads turn this week, what about a robot nurse at your bedside?

Woman sentenced to life in Valentine’s Day shooting plot at Halifax mall

An American woman has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for a decade

Countdown is on to the 2018 B.C. Summer Games

Cowichan Valley hosts on July 19-22

Most Read