By Herald on December 18, 2020.
The Canadian Press
EDMONTON – Alberta is reporting 904 opioid-related deaths in the first 10 months of 2020, a sobering record surpassing the province’s current death count of COVID-19.
Premier Jason Kenney says the novel coronavirus has had an impact on those opioid numbers, reducing access to in-person treatment programs along with reports some people used federal COVID-19 income supports to purchase drugs.
Opioid deaths peaked at 806 in 2018 but had been begun falling prior to 2020.
The opioid-death statistics this year are calculated up to the end of October.
The province says there have been 790 deaths so far this year linked to COVID-19.
The Opposition NDP says Kenney’s United Conservative government has contributed to the rise in deaths, including closing a safe consumption site in Lethbridge earlier this year.
Kenney says the ARCHES site in Lethbridge was closed because an audit found financial irregularities. He adds that a mobile site has replaced it and opioid-related deaths in Lethbridge are decreasing.
Numbers reported for Lethbridge show 46 deaths attributed to drug poisoning so far in 2020.
The premier also announced a new online dashboard has been activated giving the public and caregivers more up-to-date information on substance abuse, with data on everything from patient counts to ambulance calls.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2020.