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Ontario police leaders, chief coroner to update on Fentanyl-related overdoses

Ontario police leaders, chief coroner to update on Fentanyl-related overdoses

Huyer said that in Ontario, fentanyl was only determined to have played a role in about 30 per cent of overdose deaths in 2015 but he said that the drug is likely to become more common in the coming months and years.

Officers and border security agents will be trained on the "health and public safety challenges" posed by fentanyl, which Toronto Police Supt.

At least 201 people accidentally died with fentanyl in their systems that year, including people who had consumed a combination of fentanyl and alcohol.

Huyer also noted one in eight deaths in the 25 to 34 age group in Ontario resulted from opioids.

But he said fentanyl isn't as pervasive in Ontario as it is in other provinces like British Columbia, whose government declared a public health emergency in April because of a dramatic increase in overdose deaths in that province - many involving fentanyl.

Huyer said the drug depresses brain function, so when someone overdoses they lose energy, eventually drifting into a coma.

Supt. Ron Taverner, chair of the association's substance abuse committee, said it's common for drug trends to start in British Columbia - where numerous drug components are imported - and then spread east. The total number of fentanyl deaths in Ontario has already seen an increase from 154 in 2014 and 86 in 2010.

In August, Vancouver police said they dealt with 16 fentanyl overdoses in one night.

In the East Coast, the numbers are much lower.

Larkin said crime in the province and throughout the country is on the rise for the first time in 10 years.

And as the deaths mount, so do the precautions. As well, Taverner said that there have been some instances in Western Canada where a more powerful derivative of the drug known as carfentanyl have been seized.

On the front lines, local police are beginning a pilot project in which officers will carry naloxone, a drug given to people who overdose on opioids and temporarily reverses the effects. But there's a drawback - the antidote can be hard to deliver. "But there's just now been an introduction of a nasal application as well, which is becoming a lot more available".

Regional police Chief Bryan Larkin spoke at the conference and says the symposium offers a learning tool for all communities.

Drouillard warns the public to be careful with the drug. "We're not going to arrest our way out of this epidemic", he said.