Saskatoon

Sask. needs to look to other provinces to reduce opioid poisonings, says victim's mother

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of hospitalizations from opioid poisoning across Canada, a new report shows.

Faye Tomlinson's son died of fentanyl overdose last year

Faye Tomlison's son Stefan died of a fentanyl overdose last year. (CBC News)

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of hospitalizations from opioid poisoning across Canada, a new report shows.

Faye Tomlinson wants to know why that is.

Last year, Tomlinson's son, Stefan, died of a fentanyl overdose. Since then, she's become an advocate for people struggling with addictions in the province.

She said more needs to be done to help people addicted to opioids in Saskatchewan.

Opioids include drugs like fentanyl, oxycodone, morphine, methadone and heroin.

Saskatchewan has highest rate

From 2014 to 2015, there were 20.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in Saskatchewan, compared to the lowest rate of 9.7 in Quebec, according to a new report  by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Alberta had the biggest increase in cases, jumping from 12.2 to 18.6 per 100,000 between 2007-2008 and 2014-2015. 

A new report says Saskatchewan has the highest rate of hospitalizations and emergency department visits due to opioid poisoning. (Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse/Canadian Institute for Health Information)

Tomlinson said it's important to study what other provinces are doing to solve the problem.

"Treatment centres, preventative centres — what are the other provinces doing that make them further ahead than us in Saskatchewan?" she asked. "Should we be looking at places like Vancouver, Edmonton and being more aggressive?"

Saskatchewan mom wants shorter wait-times for psychiatrists after her son died from a fentanyl overdose.

6 years ago
1:49
A mother in Saskatoon wants the province to cut wait times to access a psychiatrist after her son Stefan died of a fentanyl overdose last year. 1:49

Tomlinson said it was difficult to help her son, and to navigate the mental health and addiction system in Saskatchewan.

"Our wait to see a psychiatrist, for whatever reason, was six months," she said. "He did get a visit, and she was very good at calling me and discussing certain issues or whatever but he died a week before he had to go back again."

Overdose deaths involving opioid drugs

There have been 341 drug overdose deaths involving opioid drugs in Saskatchewan between Jan. 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2016, according to the information collected by the Office of the Chief Coroner. The data does not include suicides or undetermined causes. 

  • 2016: 15.
  • 2015: 76.
  • 2014: 58.
  • 2013: 52.
  • 2012: 50.
  • 2011: 50.
  • 2010: 40.

Fentanyl-related deaths

There have been 45 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the province from 2013-2016, according to the information collected by the Office of the Chief Coroner. The data does not include deaths that are still under investigation. 

  • 2016: 2.
  • 2015: 22.
  • 2014: 11.
  • 2013: 10.

There have been 10 confirmed drug overdose deaths related to fake OxyContin in the same timespan. 

  • 2016: 0.
  • 2015: 6.
  • 2014: 3.
  • 2013: 1.

Opioid poisoning on the rise

The report says opioid poisoning is an increasing problem in Canada, with the rate of hospitalizations increasing by more than 30 per cent over seven years. 

Seniors had the highest rate of hospitalizations and while the rate increased across all age groups, the greatest change occurred among people aged 15 to 24.

The number of poisonings in that age group jumped by 62 per cent to 10 per 100,000 over seven years — and the majority of those cases were intentional, meaning by purposeful action instead of being purely accidental.

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