In the first 10 months of 2019, 19 people died of an illicit drug overdose in Chilliwack out of 823 across B.C. Lower numbers point to a promising trend but there is still a crisis of unsafe supply, according to the chief coroner. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

In the first 10 months of 2019, 19 people died of an illicit drug overdose in Chilliwack out of 823 across B.C. Lower numbers point to a promising trend but there is still a crisis of unsafe supply, according to the chief coroner. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

19 illicit drug deaths in Chilliwack so far in 2019

Numbers trending below 2018 or 2017 but still represent a ‘crisis of unsafe supply’

While it’s hard to call 823 illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. so far this year good news, the numbers are lower than 2017 and 2018, two years that some hope may represent the peak of the opioid crisis.

The 19 deaths over the first 10 months of 2019 in Chilliwack are about half of all of 2018 when there were 37. In 2017, there were 22 “illicit drug toxicity deaths,” according to the BC Coroners Service.

• READ MORE: Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

In 2018, three people died a month due to overdose in Chilliwack. So far in 2019, that’s down to two per month.

Chilliwack’s death rate so far in 2019 ranks 10th for municipalities, behind the 22 deaths in Prince George in Nanaimo.

There were 39 deaths in Abbotsford, fourth behind Victoria (48), Surrey (105), and Vancouver (210).

The illegal drug overdose death rate, however, measured per 100,000 persons, was highest in Princeton at 81.3. Grand Forks was second at 52.9 per 100,000, the Keremeos at 51.6, Vancouver at 49.2, followed by Hope at 49.

While the numbers seem to be going down, a promising trend, according to chief coroner Lisa Lapointe, there still exists a “crisis of unsafe supply.”

“While Coroners Service data shows that the number of fatalities related to illicit drug toxicity has decreased this year, we know from our partners in health care that the number of non-fatal drug toxicity events remains high,” Lapointe said. “The drug supply in our province is unpredictable and perilous, and the long-term impacts of drug toxicity can be severe.”

Preliminary data suggests that the proportion of illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. for which illicit fentanyl was detected (alone or in combination with other drugs) was approximately 87 per cent in 2018 and 85 per cent in 2019.

Coroners Service data also shows that there is a correlation to drug overdose deaths and when people receive income assistance. Drug toxicity deaths are 48 per cent higher on the five days following “Welfare Wednesday” than on all other days of the month. In the five days following the Wednesday of income assistance payment week, an average of 4.0 people died per day over the last year, which compares to 2.7 per day all other days of the month.

Quick Facts:

• The number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in October and September 2019 in B.C. equates to about 2.1 deaths per day for the two months.

• In 2019, 71 per cent of those dying were aged 30-59. Individuals aged 19-59 have accounted for 89 per cent of illicit drug toxicity deaths.

• Males have accounted for about nine out of every 10 illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019.

• Vancouver (210), Surrey (105), Victoria (48) and Abbotsford (39) are experiencing the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019. The four communities account for almost half the illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. this year.

• Princeton, Grand Forks and Keremeos continue to report the highest rates of illicit drug toxicity deaths, with more than 50 deaths per 100,000 people in the 2017-19 period.

• Survival from an overdose event can still lead to long-term adverse health impacts as a result of brain injury due to a lack of oxygen.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Brian Combes after getting keys to his new house on April 9, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Homeless no more on Skwah First Nation after 20 years

Brian Combes gets the keys to his newly built home near Chilliwack

In 2012, police in Abbotsford placed surveillance cameras near the Dhaliwal home in the 2500 block of Bradner Road after there were two drive-by shootings in the area. Harb Dhaliwal, 31, has now been identified as the victim of a fatal shooting April 17 in Vancouver. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford man named as victim of fatal weekend shooting in Vancouver

Harpreet Dhaliwal, 31, killed outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Coal Harbour

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom is offering free school tours of The Pencil Patch learning garden in Abbotsford in April, May and June.
Agriculture in the Classroom offers free school tours at learning garden

The Pencil Patch in Abbotsford provides 15 outdoor learning stations

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

Pub patio in Victoria reopens with widely spaced tables, June 2020. Restaurants and pubs across are restricted to take-out and patio service only until May 25 at the earliest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Don’t travel outside your region, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to target people ages 40+ in ‘high risk communities’ with AstraZeneca vaccine

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
80-million-year-old turtle find on B.C. river exciting fossil hunters

Remains of two-foot creature of undetermined species will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Most Read