FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – No new illicit drug toxicity deaths were reported in Northeast B.C. in June, says recent data from the BC Coroners Service.

The first half of 2021 saw 16 deaths in the region, one of the lowest death counts in the province. However, the northeast death rate is the third-highest in B.C., with 48.7 per 100,000 people.

Out of the 65 overdose deaths this year in northeast B.C., nine were in Peace River South, and four were in Peace River North. The report says numbers in Fort Nelson were suppressed.

In the report released on August 31st, the province reported 1,011 deaths in the first six months of 2021.

“The deaths of more than 1,000 British Columbians in the first six months of 2021 is a tragic reminder that the toxic illicit drug supply remains a significant ongoing threat to public health and safety in communities throughout our province,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, BC Coroners Service.

“The data released today highlights the immensity of this public health emergency and the need for a wide-scale response. This includes removing barriers to safe supply, ensuring timely access to evidence-based, affordable treatment, and providing those experiencing problematic substance use with compassionate and viable options to reduce risks and save lives.”

In the Northern Health region, there were six deaths in June, down from eight in May.

In June, 159 British Columbians died from drug toxicity, making June the ninth consecutive month where 150 residents died from the toxic drug supply.

By health authority, in 2021, the highest number of deaths were in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health areas—342 and 283 deaths respectively— making up 62 per cent of the deaths during 2021.

The highest death rates were in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Northern Health regions, with 46 and 45 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively. The overall rate in the province is 39 deaths per 100,000 population.

Like previous months, fentanyl and carfentanil are showing up more frequently, with fentanyl continuing to be the lead substance involved in 85 per cent of the deaths in the first six months of 2021.