British Columbia’s Coroners Service (BCCS) released a grim report on Monday showing that over 1,600 Canadians died from illicit drugs in the first nine months of this year.

According to chief coroner Lisa Lapointe at least six British Columbians are dying each day from overdoses.

“Both those who use drugs occasionally and those who are substance-dependent are at risk of sudden death from the unpredictable illicit market,” warned Lapointe.

“Individuals who have been abstinent for a period of time or those who normally use stimulants are at increased risk. Their opioid tolerance is low and the prevalence of fentanyl in the illicit supply is high.”

In total, a record 1,644 people died in the first nine months of 2022. Drug deaths are the leading cause of unnatural death in BC with 10,505 people dying since a public health emergency was first declared in 2016.

The highest numbers of deaths occurred in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria – three municipalities that all saw new mayors elected in the 2022 municipal election.

Addiction and homelessness were key issues for voters this year, especially in Vancouver.

Mayor-elect Ken Sim defeated incumbent and one-term mayor Kennedy Stewart after the ballot question heavily shifted toward discussions surrounding public safety.

While running for ABC Vancouver, Sim promised that he would prioritize hiring 100 additional police officers to the Vancouver Police Service as well as 100 mental health workers.

“100 new police officers and 100 new mental health workers is (my) commitment, 25 counsellors is the Kennedy Stewart commitment,” said Sim on Sept. 21.

“Vancouver needs leadership that recognizes the fact that our City is in crisis.”

Sim’s run received the endorsement of the Vancouver Police Union – a move which many progressive critics criticized as damaging to the independence of law enforcement.

Vancouver is holding its inaugural council meeting on Monday evening.

 

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