Chilliwack is on track to see a record number of overdose deaths in 2020 due to an ongoing supply of toxic drugs, according to the chief coroner. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Chilliwack is on track to see a record number of overdose deaths in 2020 due to an ongoing supply of toxic drugs, according to the chief coroner. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

It’s shaping up to be a record year for drug overdose deaths in Fraser East

Officials urging “extreme caution” for anyone using during dual health crisis

The year isn’t over yet but overdose deaths from illegal drugs were already higher at the end of November than in some of the worst years on record across Fraser East.

A total of 34 people died from drug overdoses in Chilliwack to the end of November 2020, according to the latest BC Coroner statistics putting it on track to surpass the record-high number of 37 fatalities it saw in 2018.

The entire Fraser East region had 109 suspected overdose deaths to the end of November, compared to 98 in all of 2018.

But the eastern part of the Fraser Valley is not alone with the terrible mounting toll, and it’s not the worst.

“Tragically, as we reach the end of 2020, our province is facing a record-breaking year for lives lost due to a toxic illicit drug supply,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

There have been 1,548 illicit drug deaths to date in 2020 in B.C., and the number in each health authority is “at or near the highest ever” monthly totals.

To compare with nearby cities, Abbotsford saw 59 drug-toxicity deaths to the end of November 2020, while Surrey suffered 189. Langley had 35 and Maple Ridge saw 31.

Provincial health officials are urging “extreme caution” for those who use during the dual health emergencies of pandemic and overdose crisis, especially given the “increasingly toxic supply” of illegal drugs hitting B.C.

RELATED: The B.C. OD numbers for November aren’t good

The B.C.-wide total points to 153 deaths attributable to the overdose crisis in November 2020 alone – an 89-per-cent increase over November 2019 (81), and a seven per cent decrease over the number of deaths in October 2020 (164), according to BC Coroners Service.

The latest numbers mean that approximately five people per day perished last month.

Toxicology results indicate 13 per cent of the people who died with extreme fentanyl concentrations compared eight per cent from January 2019 to March 2020.

They point to “extreme fentanyl concentrations” from April to November 2020.

RELATED: An extra toxic supply hit the streets

There have been 1,548 illicit drug deaths to date in 2020 in B.C., and the number of deaths in each health authority is at or near the highest ever monthly totals.

“The impacts of COVID-19 have been deadly for those experiencing problematic substance use,” Lapointe said.

Pharmaceutical alternatives on the way for B.C. will be “of immense benefit” to reduce the harms and suffering resulting from the ‘for-profit’ illicit drug market, she said.


jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Fraser Healthoverdose crisis

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

Just Posted

Abbotsford's Rick Hansen Secondary School is celebrating Vaisakhi virtually for 2021. (Submitted)
VIDEO: Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Secondary School celebrates ‘Virtual Vaisakhi’

Production highlights local youth talent in anticipation of the start of annual festival on April 13

The Abbotsford Gogos are inviting local residents to watch a virtual concert in support of African grandmothers. The concert first airs on April 15. (Photo: Abbotsford Gogos Facebook page)
Abbotsford Gogos invite guests to virtual concert to support African grandmothers

Event first airs on April 15, featuring music, dance and storytelling

(Image by RitaE from Pixabay)
There’s a very easy way to help local restaurants … order takeout

Let’s Eat supports dining establishments during difficult time

RCMP patch. (File)
Young prolific offender from Hope faces another raft of charges

Jacob Paul Sihata charged in 3rd set of serious incidents since he was 19

Environment Canada says the Eastern Fraser Valley will enjoy plenty of sunshine this week. (Black Press News File)
Sunny weather to stay around all week in Eastern Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope all forecasted for a week free of rainfall

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

South Surrey farmland, March 2020. The province’s crackdown on secondary residences sparked protests that have the NDP government engaged in a lengthy rewrite of its legislation. (Tracy Holmes/Peace Arch News)
B.C. NDP now wants to keep even ‘non-farmers’ on the land

‘Grandfathering’ of second residences extended again

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. The Vancouver Canucks say 25 players and coaches have tested positive during a COVID-19 outbreak that involves a variant of the virus. It is now the biggest reported outbreak in the NHL this season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks’ return to practice pushed back as player added to COVID protocol list

COVID outbreak has led to eight games being cancelled

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

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