is in the midst of a nationwide opioid crisis, and its impact is felt
disproportionately in smaller cities and towns.
crisis has accelerated in the past few years. Last year, the Public Health
Agency of Canada reported there were 2,816 apparent opioid-related deaths, with nearly three-quarters of them occurring
among males. Canada has roughly 36 million people.
Chartbook released in September by the
Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), an independent not-for-profit,
notes that an average of 16 Canadians each day are hospitalized due to opioid
poisoning, an increase of 53% between calendar years 2007 and 2017. Almost half
of that increase has taken place in the last three years, the Chartbook noted.
to emergency departments in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, rose by
almost 50% between calendar years 2012 and 2017, with most of that gain also in
the past three years.
CIHI hospitalization data indicate that nine of out the 10 hardest hit cities had
fewer than 225,000 inhabitants. Brantford, a city of 100,000 people about 60
miles west of Toronto, had a hospitalization rate of 32 people per 100,000
people compared with just 7.9 per 100,000 people in Toronto, which has a
population of 2.7 million.
opioid epidemic is also hitting members of Canada’s First Nations community
much harder than other Canadians. There are an estimated 850,000 First Nations
people in Canada, a figure that does not include the Métis or Inuit populations.
An August report by the First Nations Health
Authority and provincial government of British Columbia notes that in the
province, First Nations people were three times more likely to die of an
overdose than non-First Nations people, and they had a five times greater risk
of experiencing an overdose.
opioid crisis appears to vary greatly depending on the region. The Chartbook
reports that opioid hospitalization rates ranged from 25 per 100,000 people in
British Columbia to just 9.4 per 100,000 in Quebec, the French-speaking
province that is home to Montreal.