Nearly 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016, federal advisory body says

Close to 14,000 Canadians have been killed by opioids ​​​​​​and more than 17,000 have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning over the last four years, according to new federal data.

The report, titled “Opioid-related harms in Canada” and assembled by a national advisory committee studying the epidemic of opioid overdoses, was released Wednesday by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, and Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, issued a joint statement saying a bulk of the deaths were caused by illegal drugs being contaminated with toxic substances.

They say fentanyl and other potent synthetic opioids continue to be a major cause of hospitalizations and deaths.

The data also shows thousands of Canadians continue to have non-fatal overdoses each year and hundreds of thousands more are affected by problematic substance use.

In their statement, Tam and Shahab said the opioid overdose crisis is a complex problem that will take time to turn around.

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