Opioid deaths doubled among First Nations people in Ontario amid pandemic: report

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A new report says the number of First Nations people who died from opioid-related deaths in Ontario more than doubled during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report released today from the Chiefs of Ontario and the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network says that 116 First Nations people died due to opioid poisoning between March 2020 and March 2021, compared with 50 people in the previous year.

That’s a 132-per-cent increase, compared to a 68-per-cent increase of opioid-related deaths among the rest of the population in the province.

The report says the majority of First Nations people who visited the hospital or died due to an opioid-related poisoning lived in urban areas or outside of First Nations communities.

However, during the pandemic, the largest relative increase in opioid-related harms occurred among Indigenous people living in rural areas and within First Nations communities.

The Chiefs of Ontario and the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network also released a report analyzing opioid use, related harms and access to treatment among First Nations in Ontario today.

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare says the reports are “very explicit in providing evidence that governments need to correct the underfunding that has been occurring for years to make effective progress on addressing the overdose crisis in First Nations communities.”

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

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