The Opioid Crisis Among First Nations in Canada

(ANNews) – In 2020, Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam released a report detailing the state of public health and the worsening opioid crisis amid the COVID-pandemic 19.

The report states that the reason for the increase in opioid-related deaths is due to the amount of fentanyl in illegal drugs – extreme concentrations of fentanyl being found in 14% of opioid-related deaths.

A year later, the crisis has only worsened.


In late November 2021, the Chiefs of Ontario, in collaboration with the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, released two reports documenting the increase in opioid-related poisonings during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as as the need to address the opioid crisis in First Nations communities.

The number of opioid-related deaths in the province has more than doubled in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario chiefs have attributed the increase in opioid-related poisoning to the growing presence of fentanyl in the unregulated drug supply and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged amid an opioid crisis in our communities. The findings of these reports reinforce what First Nations leaders, families and communities have demanded for decades, ”said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare. “More needs to be done and we need to act now. ”

“First Nations have been disproportionately affected by the overdose crisis. The use of opioids and other substances continues to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, producing conditions that further increase overdoses and deaths, ”said Regional Chief Hare.

Reports indicate that 116 First Nations people died from opioid poisoning between March 2020 and March 2021, up from 50 people the year before.

This is a 132% increase, compared to a 68% increase in opioid-related deaths among the rest of the province’s population.

First Nations people were identified in the report using the Indian Registration System database, which includes those eligible for Indian status under the Indian Act.

Neither the Ontario Ministry of Health nor Indigenous Services Canada provided a comment.

The rest of Canada

However, opioid use and poisonings have been felt nationally, particularly in Western Canada, with the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta having seen an increase in opioid-related deaths in a country. recent past.

Now Saskatchewan and the Yukon have started to see an increase as well.

The Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service recently released statistics describing opioid-related deaths in the province. So far in 2021, there have been a total of 364 suspected and confirmed drug-related deaths.

In 2020, they were 330.

As for the Yukon, the territory reported alarming statistics on opioid-related deaths in September, saying 14 overdose deaths have occurred since January 1.

Yukon Chief Coroner Heather Jones said of the 14 deaths this year, six people were First Nations.

The 14 deaths “involved opioids in various formats of fentanyl and in combination with other illicit drugs and / or alcohol,” the report said.

“More and more Yukon families are finding themselves with a devastating reality as a result of these lost lives.

“It is a pain that is now close to so many of us.”

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