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

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

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Most Read