Record number of Indigenous people die as opiate usage soars

Record number of Indigenous people die as opiate usage soars

Mark Slapinski

A record number of Indigenous people in Ontario are dying from opiate poisoning, according to the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network. The number of deaths from opiate poisoning jumped 132 per cent the first year of the pandemic.

The opiate crisis among Indigenous people has worsened during the pandemic. It has become so bad the Chiefs of Ontario felt the need to issue a public statement. Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare stated in a news release:

“The COVID-19 pandemic emerged amid an opioid crisis in our communities…
more needs to be done, and we must act now.”

The Chiefs of Ontario collaborated with the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network to produce a report which was released Friday.

Among both First Nations and non-First Nations people, the COVID-19 pandemic led to increases in the
number of people who died due to an opioid-related poisoning. The largest relative increase occurred among
First Nations people, who experienced a 132% increase in the number of opioid poisoning-related deaths
during the pandemic.

This comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) warns of a new Covid variant, Omicron, which it says “carries a number of genetic mutations that may allow it to spread quickly, perhaps even among the vaccinated.”

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