After May 2020 was named the deadliest month for drug overdose deaths in B.C., the province marked another milestone in its ongoing overdose epidemic.
According to a tweet from Emergency Health Services, paramedics across the province responded to a whopping 131 overdoses on Friday, June 26.
That day marked the highest number of overdose calls ever recorded in a single day in B.C.
“This is double [the] average daily overdoses. Overdoses were across BC from Chilliwack to Cowichan,” said EHS.
Their statement was following by an advisory from Island Health four days later that warned of a recent spike in overdose cases in Victoria.
Over the past two months, Island Health has been issuing these notices periodically whenever they detect a spike in overdose cases in the region.
— Island Health (@VanIslandHealth) June 30, 2020
This new single-day record for overdose calls comes just a few weeks after a BC Coroners Service report found that 170 people died from overdosing in May 2020, surpassing the previous monthly record of 161 deaths reported back in December 2016.
“It is both sad and deeply frustrating to see the number of illicit drug deaths reach a new high in B.C. four years after the declaration of a public health emergency,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, in a statement at the time.
“We still know that illicit drug toxicity death rates in B.C. remain the highest for any jurisdiction in Canada, and every region in B.C. has been impacted.”
B.C. has thus far recorded three consecutive months with over 100 people dying from drug overdose, and a record of the number overdose deaths in the month of June is expected to be released later this month.
Before March, deaths related to drug overdose were on the decline in B.C. as the Coroners Service report in February showed a 36 per cent reduction in the number of people who died by overdose in 2019 compared to 2018.
Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry has long advocated for the establishment of harm-reduction measures like safe consumption sites, and naloxone training and availability.
“We’re dealing with addiction. And addiction is an illness, a health condition,” said Dr. Henry in a statement back in February.
“We are in no way out of this crisis yet.”