New overdose stats released, Health Minister to meet with feds

By Jill Sperling
November 16, 2016 - 1:26pm Updated: November 16, 2016 - 5:41pm

KAMLOOPS — Health Minister Terry Lake and Premier Christy Clark will be meeting with the federal health and public safety ministers in Ottawa tomorrow to discuss B.C.'s opioid epidemic.

The meeting comes a day ahead of a national summit on the issue. 

Lake said he feels the crisis would be taken more seriously if it were happening out east. 

"If 2,000 people were dying in Ontario, which would be the equivalent of what's happening here in B.C., I think there would be more alarm bells sounding and more federal action," Lake said. "So we're encouraging the federal government to help us by giving us more tools to reduce the terrible impact on British Columbians." 

Lake wants to see the federal government set up a national surveillance data bank and repeal Bill C-2, which makes it difficult to establish safe consumption sites. He also says B.C. needs more federal RCMP resources. 

According to the B.C. Corooners Service there were a total of 622 overdose deaths recorded in B.C. in the first 10 months of the year, compared to 397 for the same period last year. 

There were 63 deaths in October alone, which is up from 57 the previous month. 

In Kamloops, 31 deaths have been linked to illicit drugs, up from only 7 in 2015.

Nearly 60 per cent of illicit drug deaths were related to fentanyl.

"Far too many British Columbians are dying because of fentanyl and the fact that it's being seen in all kinds of different drugs, from fake pills, to mixed in with cocaine, and even reports of it being mixed in with marijuana as well," Lake said. 

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