Surrey has recorded 214 of the fatal overdoses in the province’s deadliest year of the opioid crisis.
The city continues to see the second-highest number of fatal overdoses in the province, only surpassed by Vancouver which saw 408 deaths in 2020.
In December, 25 people in Surrey lost their lives to a fatal overdose, according to the latest data released by the BC Coroners Service on Thursday (Feb. 11). That’s up slightly from the 19 people who died in November.
December was Surrey’s deadliest month for fatal overdoses in 2020, followed by 24 in April as the COVID-19 pandemic hit its first peak in B.C.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the ongoing opioid crisis.
“The impacts of COVID-19 highlighted the immensely precarious situation of those experiencing problematic substance use in our province,” chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said during a news conference.
“It’s clear that urgent change is needed to prevent future deaths and the resulting grief and loss so many families and communities have experienced across our province.”
With the backdrop of a global pandemic, advocates have voiced concern that social restrictions and fear of transmission has worsened the mental health of many, as well as cause barriers to accessing resources and harm reduction.
It has also allowed for an increase in the toxicity of street-level drugs.
Provincewide, there were 1,716 fatal overdoses in 2020.
The BC Coroners Service said it equated to roughly five deaths per day, adding it’s a 74-per-cent increase over the 984 deaths in 2019.
In Surrey in 2019, there were 118 fatal overdoses. However, Surrey recorded 214 overdose deaths in 2018.
– With files from Ashley Wadhwani