Fentanyl overdoses killed 143 people in Alberta in the third quarter of this year, a dismal record that was up 9% from the previous quarter, according to the latest data released by the provincial government.
In total, 482 people died of opioid overdose in the first nine months of the year, 40% more than in the same period of 2016. This represents nearly two deaths per day.
The largest proportion of fentanyl deaths occurred in Calgary and, to a lesser extent, in Edmonton.
The report also notes an increase in overdose deaths from carfentanil, an even stronger drug than fentanyl. Forty-four people died of having used this drug in the third quarter of 2017 when they were only 29 for the whole of 2016.
Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne insisted that the government would continue its efforts to combat this opioid crisis. Increasing the involvement of family physicians in the prevention and treatment of addictions is one of the avenues explored. The minister has promised more announcements soon.
Much effort has been made, she says, to expand the addiction treatment programs and the number of supervised injection sites available in Alberta.