Chilliwack is on track to see a record number of overdose deaths in 2020 due to an ongoing supply of toxic drugs, according to the chief coroner. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Chilliwack is on track to see a record number of overdose deaths in 2020 due to an ongoing supply of toxic drugs, according to the chief coroner. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

It’s shaping up to be a record year for drug overdose deaths in Fraser East

Officials urging “extreme caution” for anyone using during dual health crisis

The year isn’t over yet but overdose deaths from illegal drugs were already higher at the end of November than in some of the worst years on record across Fraser East.

A total of 34 people died from drug overdoses in Chilliwack to the end of November 2020, according to the latest BC Coroner statistics putting it on track to surpass the record-high number of 37 fatalities it saw in 2018.

The entire Fraser East region had 109 suspected overdose deaths to the end of November, compared to 98 in all of 2018.

But the eastern part of the Fraser Valley is not alone with the terrible mounting toll, and it’s not the worst.

“Tragically, as we reach the end of 2020, our province is facing a record-breaking year for lives lost due to a toxic illicit drug supply,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

There have been 1,548 illicit drug deaths to date in 2020 in B.C., and the number in each health authority is “at or near the highest ever” monthly totals.

To compare with nearby cities, Abbotsford saw 59 drug-toxicity deaths to the end of November 2020, while Surrey suffered 189. Langley had 35 and Maple Ridge saw 31.

Provincial health officials are urging “extreme caution” for those who use during the dual health emergencies of pandemic and overdose crisis, especially given the “increasingly toxic supply” of illegal drugs hitting B.C.

RELATED: The B.C. OD numbers for November aren’t good

The B.C.-wide total points to 153 deaths attributable to the overdose crisis in November 2020 alone – an 89-per-cent increase over November 2019 (81), and a seven per cent decrease over the number of deaths in October 2020 (164), according to BC Coroners Service.

The latest numbers mean that approximately five people per day perished last month.

Toxicology results indicate 13 per cent of the people who died with extreme fentanyl concentrations compared eight per cent from January 2019 to March 2020.

They point to “extreme fentanyl concentrations” from April to November 2020.

RELATED: An extra toxic supply hit the streets

There have been 1,548 illicit drug deaths to date in 2020 in B.C., and the number of deaths in each health authority is at or near the highest ever monthly totals.

“The impacts of COVID-19 have been deadly for those experiencing problematic substance use,” Lapointe said.

Pharmaceutical alternatives on the way for B.C. will be “of immense benefit” to reduce the harms and suffering resulting from the ‘for-profit’ illicit drug market, she said.


jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Fraser Healthoverdose crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Matthew Balogh was last seen in Abbotsford on Sunday, April 18 at 10 a.m.
Police seek help in locating missing 17-year-old in Abbotsford

Matthew Balogh was last seen at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 18

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
IIO investigating after man seriously injured by police dog during Abbotsford arrest

Independent Investigations Office looking into incident from March 6 in 3700 block of Davie Street

Westbound Highway 1 traffic near Herrling Island is backed up a long way following a vehicle incident. (Photo/Trish Dunbar)
Pedestrian killed in crash near Herrling Island

Woman in her 50s struck by moving van

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic is open every Thursday in Hope at the Legion for the age-based vaccine rollout. But now anyone aged 40 and older can also book an appointment at a pharmacy for the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Hope residents 40 and older can now get vaccinated at participating pharmacies

Remedy’s RX pharmacist said the response from the public was immediate following announcement

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Welcome to your park sign marks the spot where 84th Avenue will continue east from King George Boulevard to 140th Street as part of a $13 million road project. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Road Rage: Opposition mounts anew to Surrey’s Bear Creek traffic plan

Same place, same project, same fight as Surrey prepares once again to connect 84th Avenue between King George and 140th Street in Newton

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)
B.C.’s wild bees need messy gardens to survive

The year-long nesting period makes habitat a primary concern for wild bees

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark. (Black Press Media files)
Former B.C. premier to testify at money laundering hearing today

Attorney General David Eby has been added to the witness list as well

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to table budget that’s expected to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Robinson released a fiscal update last December that said the impact of the pandemic on B.C.’s economy was uncertain

Fire consumed a condo development project under construction at 208th Street and 80th Avenue Monday night. Many spectators shared their images. (Daniel Gerstner/Instagram: @gerstner/Special to Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: Elementary school closed as Langley deals with aftermath of massive condo fire

Firefighters remained on scene at 208th Street and 80th Avenue for much of Tuesday night

Most Read