VICTORIA, B.C. -The BC Coroners Service has reported 176 toxic illicit drug deaths for April, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 680 for 2021.

In Northern B.C., there were seven illicit drug toxicity deaths, down from 12 in March.

April is the 14th consecutive month where the illicit drug toxicity deaths were over 100.

“Once again, we’re reminded that the scale of this public health emergency is truly unprecedented,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “I offer my heartfelt condolences to every family in the province that is experiencing the unimaginable pain of sudden and unexpected loss. Every life lost to toxic drugs in our province is a profound tragedy. Every one of them mattered, and every one of them will be missed.”

In April, by Health Authority, the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths were in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities, with 231 and 187 deaths, respectively.

The highest rates in 2021 were Northern Health, 50 deaths per 100,000 people, and Vancouver Coastal Health, 46 deaths per 100,000.

Like months prior, the drug supply is continuing to be volatile in terms of variability and toxicity. Fentanyl has been discovered in 86 per cent of the deaths so far in 2021. Carfentanil was found in 62 samples so far this year.

“These latest numbers emphasize the toxicity of the illicit drug supply in B.C.,” Lapointe said. “We know that substance use disorder is a complex health issue, and those experiencing it need meaningful and compassionate services and supports. Far too often, we hear from families who have lost a loved one that no help was available despite desperate searches over months or years. It is critical that harm reduction services, including safe supply, are accessible where and when people need them, and that recovery services are evidence-based and accountable.”