Last year, BC Emergency Health Services responded to over 500 incidents related to drug poisoning in Vernon alone. From 2019 to 2021, the data shows a steady increase in calls; it had 247 reported cases in 2019, 316 calls in 2020 and 457 cases in 2021 before reaching the current total of 513 for 2022.
The opioid crisis is not only present in major cities like Vancouver which had the highest number of calls at 7,827, but also in smaller communities such as Lumby (7 calls), Armstrong (13 calls) and Enderby (21 calls). The Okanagan cities of Kelowna with 1,824 cases, Penticton with 661 cases (down from 748 in 2021) and Vernon all show alarmingly high numbers of drug-related emergency assistance incidents.
Canada’s opioid crisis is a grave concern across the country. In British Columbia alone there were more than 11,000 illicit drug overdose deaths between 2016 and 2020 according to the BC Coroners Service. This number only further emphasizes how necessary emergency health services are – providing quick support to individuals facing an overdose or even preventing it through naloxone kits and other resources.