Overdoses claim another 63 B.C. lives in October

More than a third of the 622 drug deaths so far this year have happened in Fraser region

First responders work on a drug overdose victim in Surrey earlier this year.

Illicit drug overdoses claimed another 63 lives across B.C. in October, the highest monthly death toll since April.

The total deaths reported by the B.C. Coroners Service now stands at 622 for the year up to the end of October, up markedly from the 397 deaths in the same 10 months of 2015.

The powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl continues to be linked to approximately 60 per cent of fatalities this year – 332 cases in all or three times as many as the same period last year.

More than a third of the total overdose deaths this year – 211 – have happened in the Fraser Health region, compared to 147 in Vancouver Coastal, 120 on Vancouver Island and 108 in the Interior.

The top cities where deaths have occurred so far this year are Vancouver (124), Surrey (76), Victoria (51), Kelowna (37), Kamloops (31), Abbotsford (28) and Maple Ridge (24).

A multi-prong response strategy has been underway since the province declared a public health emergency in April and created a dedicated task force in July.

Efforts include making naloxone much more widely available to reverse overdoses in progress.

The strategy also aims to block fentanyl production and distribution, increase harm-reduction options, foster greater public education and increase the number of addiction recovery beds.

Officials from B.C. will attend a federal opioid conference in Ottawa starting Friday to explore strategies to counter overdose deaths. That comes a day after Premier Christy Clark leads a delegation to Ottawa to meet federal officials on other potential government actions.

Vancouver Coastal Health has applied for federal approval of two new supervised drug consumption sites, with three more in the works, while Island Health is seeking public feedback ahead of an application for sites in Victoria.

Just Posted

Community-funded recording grant benefits Abbotsford songwriters

Common Room Music Collective starts ongoing grant to help musicians with recording costs

Langley – revving up for the cause

Two local cancer patients receive a bit of financial aid from a recent Langley charity car show

Dainty Dish signs off with Abbotsford School District

25-year partnership saw over 1.8 million lunches served; future of school lunch program unclear

Rolling with the punches: Abbotsford Mission Boxing Club finds new home

Club moves from Mission to Maclure Road in Abbotsford

Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s ER expansion still in the works

Deadline for construction proposals recently closes, but construction timeline unknown

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read