‘It’s heartbreaking’: Drug overdose deaths in Manitoba on track to set grim record

WINNIPEG –

Nearly 200 Manitobans have died of drug overdoses in the first half of 2021, and advocates say if the deaths continue the province will set a grim record.

According to data obtained by CTV News from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, there were 199 drug-related deaths in Manitoba from January to June of this year.

This is more than 44 per cent higher than the number of drug-related deaths reported during the same period last year.

In total, Manitoba reported 372 drug-related deaths in 2020.

“Last year was the worst year in overdose history in Manitoba, and we’re on track to beat that,” Rebecca Rummery, a co-founder of Overdose Awareness Manitoba, told CTV News.

“The numbers are heartbreaking.”

Overdoses involving fentanyl are rising in Manitoba.

In all of 2020, the province reported 196 fentanyl contributing drug-related deaths. In just the first six months of 2021, the province has already reported 117 fentanyl deaths.

Rummery said the rise of fentanyl in Manitoba has not come as a surprise. She said fentanyl has been moving across the country from B.C., and Manitoba was not prepared.

“We don’t have supervised consumption sites where people could go and test their drugs or do their drugs safely,” she said.

“We need to see more things like harm reduction, medically assisted detox facilities, long-term treatments and ongoing supports for people who do have substance use disorders.

“It’s heartbreaking; we really need to see more work being done in Manitoba to help this.” 

-with files from CTV’s Michael D’Alimonte

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