Fatal drug poisonings in Fort McMurray on track to exceed 2022 deaths

Drug poisonings killed 18 people in Fort McMurray between January and July. All of 2022 saw 19 deaths.

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Drug poisonings in Fort McMurray are on track to killing more people this year compared to 2022, according to data from Alberta Health.

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Recent data shows drug poisonings killed 18 people in Fort McMurray between January and July this year, with opioids playing a role in the deaths of 16 people. The data also shows methamphetamine was present in at least six deaths, cocaine was present in three deaths and alcohol was involved in two deaths.

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Last year during the same period, 12 people in Fort McMurray died from drug poisonings. A total of 19 people died in 2022.

Between January and June, about 62 per cent of deaths in Fort McMurray happened inside the person’s home and 11 per cent of deaths were in someone else’s home. More than 15 per cent of deaths were reported in another facility. The remaining 12 per cent of deaths occurred either in public or in a hotel room.

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As of Sept. 24, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have responded to 60 calls related to drug poisonings in Fort McMurray. EMS responded to 100 calls related to drug poisonings in 2022.

Alberta reported 1,169 deaths from drug poisonings between January and July of 2023. Drug poisoning across Alberta killed 168 people in July.

April has been 2023’s deadliest month for drug poisonings after 194 deaths were reported—two deaths were added to April’s count this month. This makes April 2023 the deadliest month for Alberta since the province began publicly tracking drug poisonings in 2016.

Fort McMurray is included as one of seven Alberta cities that Alberta Health tracks for drug poisonings. But rural Alberta is included in regional counts, including the rural hamlets and Indigenous communities of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.

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Municipal council was told at their Tuesday meeting that the drug crisis among Fort McMurray’s homeless population is worsening.

Council has ordered administration to work with the Poverty Reduction Network on an anti-poverty plan. The Homelessness Initiatives Strategic Committee (HISC) will now be a council-appointed committee.

Since 2000, HISC was a community advisory board. This change brings stability to HISC, aligns it with the priorities of the municipality and offers more government resources.

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