Skip to content

Toxic drugs have claimed 22 lives in New West so far in 2022

“This public-health emergency continues to devastate families throughout our province.”
BC Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe - Government of British Columbia - Flickr
BC Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe says the toxic drug crisis continues to impact communities of all size.

Toxic drugs are continuing to claim lives in New Westminster.

Preliminary reporting from the BC Coroners Service shows that illicit drugs have caused the deaths of at least 1,827 British Columbians in the first 10 months of 2022. The Nov. 30 report also indicates that at least 179 people died of toxic drugs in B.C. in October.

In an email to the Record, the BC Coroners Service stated that 22 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths have been reported in New West between January and October. That’s an increase from the 17 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths reported in New Westminster between January and August.

"Despite the efforts of many, this public-health emergency continues to devastate families throughout our province," B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a news release. "The increased toxicity and variability of the illicit drug supply has created an environment where everyone who uses substances is at risk. This vulnerability is even greater for individuals who live outside the urban centres where the limited number of safer supply programs are currently focused."

The coroners service noted that the deaths to illicit drug toxicity in October 2022 equates to an average of approximately 5.8 deaths per day.

“The reporting also further illustrates that the toxic drug crisis is impacting communities of all sizes,” said the coroners service. “Although 453 deaths this year have occurred in Vancouver, these deaths account for only 25 per cent of lives lost in 2022. Prince George and Nanaimo have already recorded more illicit drug-related deaths in 2022 than in any previous year, and both the Island and Northern health authorities are currently trending toward record losses of life for the year.”

According to the coroners service, at least 10,688 British Columbians have died of illicit drugs since the public-health emergency into substance-related harms was first declared in April 2016.

"This is not a matter of choosing one approach over another," Lapointe said. "The recommendations from both the Standing Committee on Health and two BC Coroners Service death review panels are clear: we must create a comprehensive continuum of care that supports people with substance-use disorders, and we must improve access to evidence-based options for treatment and recovery. Most importantly, as those reports recommended, it is imperative that access to safer supply is available in all areas of the province."

The BC Coroners Service states that no deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

In New Westminster, the Lower Mainland Purpose Society operates a health contact centre, which includes witnessed consumption, at 40 Begbie St.

The Purpose Society is also getting set to launch Grief on Arrival, a facilitated peer bereavement group for people who have lost loved ones to overdose/toxic drug supply. It starts Monday, Dec. 5 and runs on Mondays and Thursdays.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks