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Canada's opioid crisis killed 13 people a day in 2018, prevention report shows – CBC.ca

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About 13 people a day in Canada died as a result of opioids in 2018, according to a new report that shines a spotlight on preventable poisonings.

Released on Thursday, the report by Parachute, a Canadian charity dedicated to injury prevention, and the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health focused on poisoning — the toxic effects of substances such as medication, cleaning products or gas vapour — on the body.

The report found that in 2018, opioids were responsible for 4,614 deaths in Canada, equating to about 13 lives lost per day, based on data from the Public Health Agency of Canada. It breaks down the top 10 pharmaceutical and top 5 non-pharmaceutical causes behind cases at Canada’s five poison control centres.

“We know that the vast majority of these are preventable,” said report co-author Pamela Fuselli, president and CEO of Parachute.

The numbers are stark, Fuselli said, with nearly half of all opioid-related poisoning deaths occurring in those aged 30 to 49, primarily men.

Pamela Fuselli, president and CEO of Parachute, a Canadian charity dedicated to injury prevention, says what sends people to hospital for poisoning varies by age group and can include over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, alcohol, prescription drugs, including opioids, and cleaning products. (Kelda Yuen/ CBC)

“We’re losing people who can contribute to Canada and [losing] lives … that don’t need to be lost.”

Individuals using illicit substances can be at increased risk of poisoning despite using their usual amount because of the growing degree of contamination of the drug supply with fentanyl and other ultrapotent opioids, the report said. Respiratory arrest and death can result.

The report recommends steps to prevent the loss of a family member and the “heartache” that follows, such as:

  • Harm reduction to reduce the negative effects of stigma surrounding people with a substance use disorder.
  • Offering treatment and rehabilitation services for those with substance use disorders and associated mental health disorders.
  • Expanding safe consumption sites where people can access safe needles and receive medical attention and support, including conversations on accessing treatment and rehabilitation services.
  • Clamping down on illegal drug production and trafficking.
  • Providing educational campaigns to inform people of the risks associated with use of substances.
  • Looking at what leads people to take drugs in the first place.
  • Providing naloxone to prevent deaths among people who take opioids.
  • Locking up medications and cleaning products to keep them out of reach of young children.
  • Getting rid of any medications that are no longer needed.

Fentanyl detected in majority of illicit drug deaths

Co-author and epidemiologist Kathy Belton, associate director of the Injury Prevention Centre at the U of A, said Western Canada has been hit hard, with British Columbia seeing 1,542 deaths related to illicit drug use in 2018. Of these, fentanyl was detected in 87 per cent.

When both Fuselli and Belton crunched the numbers, they said they were surprised to find that twice as many people now die of unintentional poisonings than traffic-related injuries — the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children and teens for nearly 20 years.

“It just jumped out at you on the page,” Belton said.

She also pointed to a 2018 study in Alberta that showed the increase in death and disease accompanying the opioid crisis was largely due to unintentional poisoning rather than intentional self-harm or suicide by poisoning.

‘Long road to go to solve poisoning’

“An overdose is really the wrong term,” Belton said, because people taking opioids to get high aren’t intending to die.

“If we start looking at that’s not the intended outcome, then we look at this whole issue of poisoning and opioid poisoning differently,” she said. “Maybe they would stop blaming the individual because addiction is a disease just like any other disease.”

Jason Mercredi, executive director of Prairie Harm Reduction in Saskatoon, says he thinks the report underestimates the scale of hospitalizations from opioids and would like to see an expansion of harm-reduction services across Canada supported with long-term funding. (Don Somers/CBC)

Jason Mercredi, executive director of Prairie Harm Reduction in Saskatoon, was not involved in writing the report, but he said he thinks it underestimates the scale of hospitalizations from opioids given how busy paramedics are in Saskatchewan.

“I think the most frustrating part of my job is when I get a call from somebody’s mom whose kid died, and they’re calling and asking what they can do to support us,” Mercredi said. “That’s backwards. It should be the opposite relationship, but they have nowhere to go to and they don’t feel like they’re being listened to.”

Mercredi said he would like to see an expansion of harm-reduction services across Canada supported with long-term funding.

WATCH | COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates opioid deaths:

There has been an unprecedented spike in opioid overdoses in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 25 per cent increase in Ontario and a 39 per cent increase in British Columbia. 1:59

Fuselli said when it comes to other types of poisoning deaths, people may think that the problem of poisoning slowed with the introduction of child-resistant caps and blister packs for medications, but that’s not the case.

“We actually have a long road to go to solve poisoning,” she said.

What sends people to hospital varies by age group and can include over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, alcohol, prescription drugs, including opioids, and cleaning products, depending on how much is ingested, Fuselli said.

Belton said that as a scientist, it’s important to get more information on the circumstances surrounding an event to find out what’s the best point to intervene and stop injuries from happening.

A pair of shoes representing a life lost hangs on the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver as part of an art display on International Overdose Awareness Day in August. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

But that data is not collected in the same database in Canada. Instead, the report was compiled based on 2008 to 2018 data on deaths and hospitalizations in all provinces except Quebec, as well as emergency department visits in Alberta and Ontario.

The authors recommend setting up a national phone number that would allow health professionals to connect seamlessly with a poison control centre. They would also like a database similar to what’s in the U.S. and European Union to look for signs of contaminants, which could also help inform health-care providers when exposures occur.

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30 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Simcoe Muskoka, local total reaches 1,983 – Global News

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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit confirmed 30 new novel coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the local total number of cases up to 1,983, including 52 deaths.

Fourteen of the new cases are in Barrie, while six are in New Tecumseth, three are in Bradford and two are in Springwater.

The rest are in Collingwood, Essa, Innisfil and Tiny Township.

Read more:
Auditor general highlights Ontario’s ‘confusing,’ indirect communications on COVID-19 in new report

Twelve of the new cases are a result of close contact with another positive COVID-19 case, while seven are community-acquired. Two of the new cases are related to an educational setting outbreak, while on is travel-related.

The rest of the new cases are all under investigation.

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This week, the health unit has reported 149 new coronavirus cases.

Last week, there were 200 new COVID-19 cases in the region, marking the highest number of cases reported in a single week since the start of the pandemic.






1:33
Ontario may not get coronavirus vaccine in early 2021: Health minister


Ontario may not get coronavirus vaccine in early 2021: Health minister

Of the region’s total 1,983 coronavirus cases, 87 per cent — or 1,717 — have recovered, while 13 people remain in hospital.

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There are 13 total COVID-19 outbreaks in the region — at four schools, two long-term care facilities, two congregate settings, two workplaces, one retirement home and two community settings.

The school outbreaks are at St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School, Willow Landing Elementary School and Warnica Public School, all of which are in Barrie, as well as Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School in Angus.

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There has been 61 outbreaks in Simcoe Muskoka since the start of the pandemic — at 20 long-term care facilities, 14 workplaces, 10 retirement homes, eight educational settings, six congregate settings and three community settings.

Read more:
Ontario reports 1,373 new coronavirus cases, 35 more deaths

According to the province of Ontario, 14 schools under the public Simcoe County school board and the Catholic Simcoe Muskoka school board are reporting at least one case of COVID-19.

The affected schools are:

  • Warnica Public School in Barrie
  • Innisdale Secondary School in Barrie
  • Monsignor Clair Catholic School in Barrie
  • St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Barrie
  • Willow Landing Elementary School in Barrie
  • St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Barrie
  • Bradford District High School
  • Fieldcrest Elementary School in Bradford
  • Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School in Essa
  • Our Lady of Grace School in Essa
  • Boyne River Public School in New Tecumseth
  • St. Paul’s Catholic School in New Tecumseth
  • Holy Family Catholic School in New Tecumseth
  • Nantyr Shores Secondary School in Innisfil

On Thursday, Ontario reported 1,373 new coronavirus cases, bringing the provincial total to 107,883, including 3,554 deaths.

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Health unit reports 29 new COVID cases in Simcoe County today – OrilliaMatters

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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is reporting 30 new COVID-19 cases in the region today, at least 29 of which are Simcoe County residents. 

Almost half of the new cases reported today are Barrie residents with 14 new cases in the city. 

Of those 14 cases, nine are between the ages of 18 and 34 (one female and eight males). The transmission source is reported as close contact for five of those cases, one community-acquired, and one travel. The rest are still under investigation.

The remaining five Barrie cases include a woman between 35 and 44 years old, and two women and two men between 45 and 64 years old. The transmission sources for those cases include three community-acquired, one close contact, and one under investigation. 

The health unit is also tracking a community setting outbreak in Barrie involving a hockey team. There are at least eight positive cases linked to the outbreak. 

There are three new cases in Bradford West Gwillimbury, all linked to close contact. The cases include two men between 45 and 64 years old and a woman over the age of 80. 

Among the new cases is a Collingwood man aged 65 to 79 years old. His case transmission is still under investigation. This is the fifth local case since Nov. 20, and the other four cases have been linked to close contact or community transmission. 

There is also one new case in Innisfil today, a woman between 65 and 79 years old, and it remains under investigation. 

There are two new cases in Springwater, including a boy under 18 and a man between 35 and 44 years old. The boy’s case is linked to close contact and the man’s case is linked to an educational setting outbreak. 

There are six new cases in New Tecumseth, including one woman and two men between 18 and 34 years old, a man between 35 and 44 years old, and a woman and a man between 45 and 64 years old. The case transmission sources include two close contact, one community-acquired, and one linked to an educational setting outbreak out of the region. The remaining cases are under investigation. 

The health unit has confirmed one new case in Tiny, a man between 18 and 34 years old, which is reported as community-acquired. 

There is one new case in Essa today, a man between 18 and 34 years old, which is reported as community-acquired. 

Lastly, the health unit has reported one case, a man between 35 and 44, whose transmission source and location information is still pending. 

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has reported a total of 1,983 cases of COVID-19, with 1,891 of those in Simcoe County. There are 1,717 cases listed as recovered in the region. Thirteen people are currently hospitalized, all are Simcoe County residents. The health unit has confirmed 52 deaths since March.

The incidence rate for Simcoe County is 358 cases per 100,000 people. With a seven-day average of 29.2 cases per 100,000 people in a week. The region’s reproductive rate shows every person who contracts COVID-19 transmits it to 1.1 other people, and testing data shows 2.1 per cent of people who are tested in the region test positive for COVID-19. 

Case breakdown from Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit by municipality for Simcoe County as of Nov. 26.

Municipality Total cases** Recoveries Deaths In Hospital Last case reported Incidence rate*
Barrie  591 504 15 10 Nov. 26 396
Bradford W-G  347 300 12 1 Nov. 26 808
New Tecumseth  337 289 12 1 Nov. 26 813
Innisfil 179 162 1 1 Nov. 26 439
Orillia 34 27 3   Nov. 23 102
Collingwood 26 21     Nov. 26 104
Wasaga Beach 35 31 1   Nov. 23 152
Clearview 34 32 1   Nov. 23 230
Springwater 40 23 1   Nov. 26 190
Midland 16 16     Nov. 19 89
Oro-Medonte 23 20 2   Nov. 12 99
Adjala-Tosorontio 37 34     Nov. 25 318
Essa 96 88 1 1 Nov. 26 401
Ramara 18 16     Nov. 18 173
Tiny 19 16     Nov. 23 137
Tay 27 23 1   Nov. 23 235
Penetanguishene 19 17 1   Nov. 19 196
Severn 13 12     Nov. 20 87
Georgian Bay 9 8     Nov. 24 319

 *Incidence rate is number of cases per 100,000 people in the local population.

**Total cases includes the number of cases currently recovering at home as well as any that have recovered, died, or are in hospital

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Another record-breaking COVID-19 update: B.C. adds 887 cases, 13 deaths – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
British Columbia added 887 cases of COVID-19 to its total on Thursday, setting a new daily record for the province.

Health officials also announced 13 deaths in their written statement on B.C.’s response to the disease. That ties the record set on Wednesday.

“We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in their statement.

The province has now seen 29,973 cases and 384 deaths since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday, there are 7,899 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C., which is also a record. That total includes 294 people who are hospitalized, 64 of whom are in intensive care.

The update comes the day after health officials revised several previous reports on B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload because of technical errors in the Fraser Health region.

The province had previously announced 941 new cases on Tuesday, which was a record, but some of those cases actually should have been reported earlier in the month.

The changes meant B.C.’s record for new cases in a day was actually 835, which should have been the total reported for Saturday, Nov. 21. B.C. initially reported 713 for that day.

In Thursday’s update, Dix and Henry also announced two new outbreaks of COVID-19 at health-care facilities – at Royal Ascot Care Centre in Vancouver and Amica White Rock.

Three other outbreaks – at Hamlets at Westsyde in Kamloops, Peace Portal Seniors Village in Surrey and Village by the Station in Penticton – are over, the health officials said.

“Slow and steady is what we need with COVID-19 and it is how we will get through this second wave,” Henry and Dix said. “The efforts we make each day make a difference.”

The pair repeated their request that British Columbians do what they can to help public health teams do their jobs. Those teams are currently following up regularly with 10,307 people who have been exposed to confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“Exposures and transmission can happen anywhere,” Dix and Henry said. “By paying attention to the places we go and the people we see, we can help contact tracers contain the further spread if that does occur.”

Most of Thursday’s new cases are located in the Fraser Health region, where 612 infections have been confirmed in the last 24 hours. Vancouver Coastal Health has recorded 168 cases in that time.

Elsewhere in B.C., there have been 65 cases in Interior Health, 24 in Northern Health and 18 in Island Health.

Nearly 20,000 people – 19,998 as of Thursday – who have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C. are now considered recovered.

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