In 2016 alone, hundreds of Canadians have been killed by a fentanyl overdose.


This number is only expected to increase in 2017, with medical experts and emergency personnel reinforcing the facts. Health Canada stats revealed that, comparing 2016 to 2015, there has been at least a 40% increase in the amount of street drugs that tested positive for fentanyl. Firefighters from Vancouver’s Downtown East-side responded to 1,255 calls in November alone to handle the increasing number of overdoses.

“This month, they are projected – if things stay on pace – they’ll be up to 1,600 calls. It’s unimaginable. Nobody could have predicted this,” says Dustin Bourdeaudhuy, Vice-President of the Vancouver Fire Fighters’ union local 18.

Read More: What is Fentanyl?

Families Affected by Fentanyl

“Fentanyl does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter what age you are, what drug you’re taking, what setting you’re in, what gender you are. It can kill you,” said Julian Brumec-Parsons, a relative of the Leightons, a North Vancouver couple who passed away from a fentanyl-involved overdose in July 2015. They left behind their 2-year-old son, Magnus.

Families from British Columbia and Alberta to Manitoba and Ontario have been affected, and the crisis is believed to become even worse in 2017.

Deaths in Canada Associated with Fentanyl in 2016

  • 322 in British Columbia
  • 193 in Alberta
  • 2 in Saskatchewan
  • 9 in Manitoba
  • 162 in Ontario
  • 2 in Nova Scotia
  • 5 in Newfoundland

2017: Bootleg Fentanyl & Carfentanil Speading Eastward

According to medical experts, bootleg fentanyl has been appearing more often in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Carfentanil, an opioid that is 100 times more toxic than fentnayl, has also been showing up in several provinces. It only takes 20 micrograms – a single grain of salt – of carfentanil to kill a person.

Dr. David Juurlink is the head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Juurlink says that the state of emergency declared in British Columbia is evidence of the crisis across Canada. “It’s not hard to make a case that other jurisdictions in Canada – particulary, Alberta – are in the midst of an emergency, even if they haven’t declared one publicly.”


Methods of Fighting Fentanyl/Carfentanil Overdose

Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Public Health Officer, along with Dr. David Jurrlink, highlighted some methods for fighting the opioid crisis. They include:

  • Increased accessibility to naloxone.
  • Improved harm reduction methods, including monitored/superivsed consumption sites. This is comparable to supervised injection. Currently, there are only two supervised drug injection sites in Vancouver.
  • Increased use of Suboxone, a drug that is typically taken taken as a first line of treatment for opioid addiction.

Read More: Naloxone


Global News


Lindsey Locke, Journalist