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Burnaby records 14 deaths by toxic drug supply in three months

To date, 23 people living in Burnaby died from illicit drug overdoses in 2023 — 32 per cent fewer than one year ago.
opioid drugs illicit toxic deaths Coquitlam Port Moody
BC Coroners have recorded 23 known deaths to toxic drugs in Burnaby to date in 2023. | File photo

Deaths by toxic drugs in Burnaby are down 32 per cent from one year ago.

However, the number of lives lost in 2023 nearly doubled during the summer compared to the first four months.

Today (Aug. 29), the BC Coroners Service's latest data showed a total of 23 deaths by illicit drug overdoses in Burnaby as of July 31.

That means there were 14 more fatalities from May, June and July after nine were tallied between January and April.

At this time in 2022, 34 Burnaby residents had died of toxic drug supply.

'No signs of abating'

The new total is among 1,455 British Columbians that have passed this year, the BC Coroners Service said.

As well, for a 13th consecutive month, nearly 200 deaths by illicit substances were recorded across the province from the month of July.

"I am saddened to once again report that British Columbia's toxic drug crisis shows no signs of abating," said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe in a news release.

"We are continuing to experience record numbers of deaths provincewide because of the toxic drug supply. The unregulated illicit market is highly unpredictable and continues to put thousands of lives at risk each month. Despite recommendations for the urgent expansion of a safer drug supply, very few have access to a stable, lower-risk alternative."

Burnaby's year-to-date total is also part of 101 illicit drug overdose deaths recorded across the Fraser North health service delivery area since Jan. 1, 2023.

However, Burnaby has seen the sixth fewest unregulated drug deaths "by township of injury" in B.C. this year — well behind urban centres like Vancouver (382), Surrey (137) and Victoria (91).

The provincial total for July equates to 6.4 deaths per day, Lapointe noted.

In 2023 to date, 69 per cent of fatalities were people aged 30 to 59 and 77 per cent of whom identified as male.