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

VIDEO: Serious crash in Langley (updated)

Fraser closed near 232 street

Langley School District replaces fountains with water bottle filling stations

After lead found in water, district installs filtering system

Abattoir proposal has south Langley residents on edge

Opponents to poultry slaughterhouse application say aquifer could be at risk

Metro gas prices hit 155.7 cents a litre and higher

Lower Mainland could see 1.60 cents by April

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Painting of B.C. lake by Winston Churchill sells for $87,000

Churchill had painted the work in 1929 during visit to an area near Field

New lead in one of six B.C. searches that remain unresolved

New details in case of couple who’d been flying from Cranbook to Kamloops when plane disappeared

UPDATE: Surrey man wanted in ‘vicious’ attack on autistic man has criminal history

Ronjot Singh Dhami, 25, is wanted for one count of aggravated assault

Former Lower Mainland city councillor in court for sentencing

Dave Murray was convicted of sexual assault in fall.

B.C. announces $175 million to cut hip, knee surgery wait times

Premier John Horgan said money will allow for a 34-per-cent increase in surgeries

Starbucks to unveil latest creation: crystal ball frappuccino

The limited-edition drink will be available starting March 22

Eight B.C. restaurants among website’s top 100 in Canada for night out

Seven in Vancouver and one in White Rock make OpenTable’s list of popular spots

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Most Read