Opioid-related deaths surge in Ontario

ER visits also on the rise

Nearly 1,500 Ontarians died from opioid overdoses last year.

Statistics from Public Health Ontario show 1,473 people died from opioid-related causes in 2018 – up 17 percent from the previous year.

The numbers also show a spike in emergency room visits prompted by opioid overdoses in the first quarter of this year – 2,973, up sharply from the same period in 2018 when 1,843 emergency department visits were recorded.

Related: ER Visits Up But Death Toll Stabilizing As Fight Against Opioid Crisis Continues

The Ontario government and Public Health Ontario cannot explain the increases, but harm-reduction workers say the growing prevalence of potent opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil in the street drug supply may have played a major role.

The government said last fall it would spend $31 million a year to fund as many as 21 supervised consumption sites to help reduce overdoses. Since announcing an initial 15 sites, it has only received one application for a new location which is currently under review.

Related: Safe Consumption Site Applicants Calling Council Move “Positive”

Discussions on a site for Barrie continue at City Council. Councillors and residents are split on the issue. Some recognizing a need for such a facility, others leery of the role it would play in feeding into someone’s drug habit. There have also been questions raised as to where a supervised consumption would be located.