Canadian Contractor

By Canadian Contractor staff   

Opioid overdose epidemic report reveals ‘an average of 21 deaths per day’

Canadian Contractor

Oct. 18, 2023 – A new report from the Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses found that in Canada between January and March 2023, there were 1,904 opioid-related deaths, an average of 21 deaths per day.

The number of total apparent opioid toxicity deaths in Canada reported from that time period were within five per cent of the same period in 2022.

From January to March, 90 per cent of the accidental apparent opioid toxicity deaths in Canada occurred in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. The report notes that elevated mortality rates were also observed in areas with smaller populations, like Saskatchewan and Yukon.

Men aged 20 to 59 accounted for the majority of accidental apparent opioid toxicity deaths at 73 per cent.

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A July 2022 study outlined the opioid abuse within Ontario’s construction industry, which encompasses a similar male demographic.

This study, titled “Lives Lost to Opioid Toxicity among Ontarians Who Worked in the Construction Industry,” noted that a 2021 report found that in Ontario, one-third of those who were employed at the time of opioid toxicity deaths worked in the construction industry. B.C. showed similar statistics with one-fifth of opioid toxicity deaths occurring amongst the same sector.

During the COVID-19 State of Emergency (March 2020), deaths amongst construction workers decreased proportionally but the yearly total in the sector increased during the pandemic to 82 deaths, up for 60 in 2019.

The study also notes that in 17.5 per cent of deaths among construction workers, there was an individual present at the time of overdose who could intervene. In June, the Ontario government made an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act requiring workplaces to have a naloxone kit on hand and workers trained on how to use them.

The proposed cause of high averages of opioid toxicity deaths in the construction industry are linked to chronic pain, mental-health incidents and job insecurity or non-standard working arrangements.

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