COVID-19 measures contributed to spike in OD deaths among B.C. Indigenous people

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B.C.'s First Nations Health Authority says measures linked to controlling COVID-19 have helped erase previous gains that reduced the number of illicit drug overdoses among First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations.

New data from the health authority shows suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths spiked between January and May, with 89 deaths reported, marking a 93 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Health officials say COVID-19 safety measures have disrupted the drug supply, making the current supply more toxic, while physical distancing requirements also mean many people are using alone and are unable to call for help if their supply is tainted.

First Nations Health Council Chair Charlene Belleau says properly resourced treatment centres and culturally safe harm reduction strategies are critical to reversing the deadly trend.

 

- With files from CTV -