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Coquitlam records more toxic drug deaths in 2022 than in last decade

Illicit drug overdoses claimed 32 lives in the city last year — the seventh highest among Metro Vancouver communities, according to the BC Coroners Service.
Screen Shot 2020-08-05 at 4.40.45 PM
Illicit drug supply. | iStock/Getty Images

A sombre statistic for the Tri-Cities during B.C.'s drug poisoning crisis.

Coquitlam recorded a new 10-year high with 32 overdose deaths from illicit drugs in 2022, which is one more than the 31 lives lost in 2021.

It's also the most toxic fatalities the city has seen in a year since the BC Coroners Service started taking numbers in 2012.

The provincial agency added this is the fourth consecutive year of increased illicit drug toxicity deaths for Coquitlam.

It's also the third time in six years the municipality saw at least 30 deaths by poisoned drug supply since B.C. declared a public health emergency.

  • 2017 = 30
  • 2018 = 22
  • 2019 = 11
  • 2020 = 28
  • 2021 = 31
  • 2022 = 32

Coquitlam was the 15th highest recorded among all B.C. communities and the seventh most in Metro Vancouver, according to the BC Coroners Service's update today (Jan. 31).

Across the province, 2,272 people died from illicit drug overdoses last year — the second-largest ever recorded and 34 fewer than the 2,306 reported in 2021.

"Our province continues to lose an average of six lives every day, and many more people experience serious health consequences as a result of the unpredictable, unregulated drug supply," said Lisa Lapointe, B.C.'s chief coroner, in a news release. 

"Death due to drug toxicity remains the leading cause of unnatural death in British Columbia, and is second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost."

Meanwhile, Fraser North, which includes Coquitlam as well as Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, recorded a total of 191 deaths by toxic drugs last year.

That's 21 per cent less than the 242 lives lost across the region in 2021.

"The reality is that these deaths are preventable," Lapointe added.

"Toxicology data confirms that the drug supply in British Columbia is increasingly volatile and life-threatening. The Standing Committee on Health and two BC Coroners Service death review panels are in agreement that we must rapidly increase access to a safer supply of substances, while at the same time, building out a robust system of evidence-based care.

"Those dying are our family members, neighbours, friends and colleagues. Urgent action is required to reduce the significant risks that tens of thousands of British Columbians are currently facing."

The BC Coroners Service said 79 per cent of deaths in 2022 were men and 70 per cent of the final total were those aged 30 to 59.