Opioid file photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / FotoMaximumOpioid file photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / FotoMaximum

Opioid deaths remain high in Ontario

From January to March 2023, 641 Ontarians died due to opioid toxicity.

This is the highest number of deaths across the country for that time period, with British Columbia only slightly behind with 640 deaths, though the provincial rate falls below the national average.

According to Statistics Canada, Ontario's death rate from opioid toxicity was 17 people per 100,000 in the first three months of the year. In British Columbia the rate was 48 per 100,000 followed by Alberta at 38 per 100,000.

Across Canada 1,904 people died due to opioids in the first quarter of 2023, though that number is sure to rise as Manitoba's totals were not included in the data.

"This is an average of 21 deaths per day," the agency said.

Of these deaths, 81 per cent involved fentanyl and just over half of them involved an opioid and a stimulant such as cocaine or methamphetamines.

On Friday, in an effort to combat the toxic drug and overdose crisis, Federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Ya'ara Saks announced the launch of the 2023 national call for proposals for Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP).

SUAP provides time-limited funding for a wide range of projects including substance use prevention, harm reduction and treatment initiatives nationwide. This year's federal budget includes $144M for SUAP to fund community-based supports, and evidence-based health interventions.

Organizations that are eligible to pitch their projects for funding include:

  • Canadian not-for-profit health organizations including hospitals, regional health councils, and community health organizations

  • Canadian not-for-profit organizations and registered not-for-profit charitable organizations

  • Canadian institutions including universities, boards of education, and other centres of education in Canada

  • Other levels of government including Indigenous, provinces, territories, and municipalities and their agencies

  • First Nations, Métis, and Inuit not-for-profit organizations

The deadline to submit applications is November 22, 2023.

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