VICTORIA, B.C. – B.C. has recorded another record month of illicit drug deaths with Fort St. John experiencing 11 deaths already in 2020.

In June, there were 175 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths. This represents a 130% increase over the number of deaths seen in June 2019

The number of deaths in each health authority is at or near the highest monthly total ever recorded. Northern Health has the second-highest death rate in B.C. at 32 deaths per 100,000 people. Vancouver Coastal has the highest rate at 33 per 100,000.

By local health areas, the rates of illicit drug toxicity deaths are highest in Hope, Vancouver, Lillooet, Peace River North, and Grand Forks from 2018 to 2020.

Fort St. John has already seen 11 deaths in 2020, compared to 11 in 2019, 21 in 2018 and 30 in 2017.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Henry says overdose deaths continue to escalate. “While much effort has been made to reduce harm, remove the stigma and provide the care that people living with addiction need, the impacts of the pandemic have made the situation dire for too many.”

The illicit drug toxicity death total for June surpasses the previous highs of 171, reported in May 2020, and 161 reported in December 2016. B.C. has recorded four consecutive months with over 100 illicit drug toxicity deaths.