The City of Guelph had 21 fatal drug poisoning in 2021, according to the Guelph Community Health Centre (GCHC).
This number is slightly down from 2020 when the region recorded 24 fatal drug poisonings, however, the number of fatal drug poisonings in 2021 is still three times higher than the seven recorded in 2019.
The numbers came from Adrienne Crowder, Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy manager with GHCH, who said it is almost impossible to track non-fatal overdoses because there is not a consistent way to record the data.
“The numbers are fairly similar, there is a difference of three deaths we know of, so it’s not a huge reduction sadly. One of the reasons Guelph might have seen slightly lower numbers is the services in Guelph have really stepped up to try and meet the needs of people who are using substances,” said Crowder.
The programs, which include the new safe and supply, safe injection sites and the consumption and treatment sites have helped in providing education and safety to people.
“The biggest changes that need to happen are policy changes, and that’s complicated because policy is governed by the province and the federal government, and locally we don’t have the kind of control over those policies to pull leavers directly,” said Crowder. “Some of the policy changes that would really make a big difference would be addressing substance use and addiction as a mainstream health issue, so really bringing equitable services to meet the needs of local community members.”
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health sounded the alarm on overdoses multiple times through 2021, including an advisory issued on Sept. 7 after three suspected overdose deaths were reported in Guelph over the long weekend.
The WDG Public Health Overdose and Drug Use Information System (ODIS) shows in 2021 the region saw a recorded 272 incidents with 226 calls to 911.
Broken down by neighbourhood, Sunny Acres had the highest number of incidents at 76, followed by Exhibition Park with 74 incidents.
Fentanyl was the substance involved by an overwhelming margin, accounting for 58.7 per cent of incidences. An additional 10 per cent of incidences were attributed to different variations of fentanyl such as red, blue and purple fentanyl.
Unknown opioids accounted for 11.3 per cent of incidents.
Broken down by gender, males were involved in 186 of the incidents, females 81 incidents and unknown gender five incidents.
The highest majority of incidents came from those age 25 to 29 with a total of 60 incidents