A woman holds up a sign bearing a photograph of Morgan Goodridge during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A woman holds up a sign bearing a photograph of Morgan Goodridge during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

155 overdose deaths in B.C. marks deadliest February on record

The pandemic has led to increased isolation and a more toxic drug supply

The province reported 155 fatal overdoses in February as the opioid crisis continues in B.C.

In a Wednesday (March 24) news release, the BC Coroners Service said that this was the 11th month in a row where more than 100 people had died.

“The number of deaths due to toxic illicit drugs in February highlights the ongoing critical risk to public health and safety from the illicit drug market,” said Lisa Lapointe, B.C.’s chief coroner. “The continued tragic and unprecedented rate of death in B.C. highlights the urgent need for a multi-faceted, evidence-based and accessible system of care for those experiencing problematic substance use.”

This was the deadliest February on record since the overdose crisis began nearly five years ago in B.C. with a 107 per cent increase over the same month last year.

February saw 5.5 people die per day, compared to an average of 4.7 people per day for 2020, when 1,724 people died in total.

An increasingly toxic drug supply and isolation, both brought on by the pandemic, have been blamed for the increase in deaths.

Data for the first two months of 2021 show that 81 per cent of those dying were male and that the highest number of deaths were reported in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. While the highest number of overdose deaths were in Fraser Health with 116 and Vancouver Coastal Health at 90, the highest rate of death was in Northern Health at 58 deaths per 100,000 individuals.

Overall in B.C., the rate of overdose deaths so far for 2021 is at 38 per 100,000 people, higher than 2020’s record 33.5 per 100,000.

Of the year’s 329 deaths, 192 – or 58 per cent – were in private residences, while 92 – or 28 per cent – were in other residences. An additional 36 – 10.9 per cent – were outside.

While the BC Coroners Service stressed that 2021 data is preliminary, thus far about 85 per cent of overdose deaths had fentanyl present this year, compared to 86 per cent last year.

Overall, between 2018 and 2020, fentanyl and its analogues were involved in 87 per cent of deaths, with cocaine at 48.7 per cent and methamphetamine at 38.4 per cent.

Extreme fentanyl concentrations, defined as exceeding 50 micrograms per litre, were found in 13 per cent of people who fatally overdoses between April 2020 and January 2021, compared to eight per cent from January 2019 to March 2020.

Carfentanil, deemed 100 times stronger than fentanyl, has been found in 31 deaths in the first two months of 2021, compared to 65 deaths in all of 2020.

READ MORE: 2020 marks deadliest year of overdose crisis in B.C. history


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

B.C. overdosesopioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A recent virtual gala raised $150,000 for Abbotsford Hospice Society and its Holmberg House. (Abbotsford Hospice Society photo)
Abbotsford Hospice’s Light Up the Night gala raises almost $150K

Virtual event included pre-show drive-thru pickup of farm-fresh meals

Matthew Balogh was last seen in Abbotsford on Sunday, April 18 at 10 a.m.
Police seek help in locating missing 17-year-old in Abbotsford

Matthew Balogh was last seen at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 18

Michael Colmant, a former manager of Abbotsford International Airport, was killed in a hit-and-run in Washington state while he was riding his bicycle.
Abbotsford man dies in hit-and-run while cycling in Washington

Seattle police still searching for driver of vehicle that killed Michael Colmant

Sasquatch Days typically takes place in May but has been canceled the past two years due to COVID-19. The Sts’ailes First Nation recently announced this year’s cancelation. (Photo/Tourism Harrison)
2021 Sasquatch Days canceled due to COVID-19

Second year in a row the pandemic canceled this event

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Surrey RCMP reunited three stolen puppies with their mom. (RCMP handout)
Puppies stolen from South Surrey home located, reunited with mom

Surrey RCMP said they found the stolen puppies on April 16

A woman is vaccinated at a Maple Ridge clinic. (Black Press files)
Fraser Health providing priority AZ immunization for people 40+ in COVID hotpots

Six Surrey neighbourhoods, North Delta, PoCo, South Langley Township, and West Abbotsford targeted

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton ready to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to authorize legal action

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read