The death toll in Canada’s opioid crisis has surpassed that of the country’s AIDS epidemic at its peak, according to the Canadian Minister of Health.
Minister Jane Philpott made the claim while speaking at the recent International Harm Reduction Conference about the impacts of fentanyl and other opioids in the country.
"We know that at minimum in Canada, there were 2,300 Canadians that died last year of an opioid overdose," said Philpott.
"The death toll is worse than any other infectious epidemic in Canada, including the peak of AIDS deaths, since the Spanish flu that took the lives of 50,000 people a century ago."
At its peak in the early-to-mid 1990s, Canada’s AIDS epidemic is said to have claimed the lives of around 1,400 people.
Philpott criticized the previous government’s handling of the opioid crisis, pointing to the fact that 343 people died in Alberta from fentanyl overdoses, 931 died in British Columbia due to drug overdoses, and many others died across Canada from similar causes last year. It’s estimated that roughly two people due to opioid overdose in Ontario every day.
"I will be the first to acknowledge that our country ignored innovators in our domestic context,” said Philpott. “We shut out some of the most important voices in this discussion.”