Suspected opioid-related overdoses in jurisdictions across Canada based on Emergency Medical Services Data Published: (June 2019)
Canada continues to experience a serious opioid crisis. Across the country, it is having devastating effects on families and communities. The Public Health Agency of Canada works closely with the provinces and territories to collect and share national level data on apparent opioid-related deaths and suspected opioid-related overdoses to obtain a more complete understanding of the opioid crisis.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) data provides information on suspected opioid-related overdoses occurring in communities across Canada. This information helps to:
- Describe the distribution of suspected opioid-related overdoses across Canada;
- Monitor changes in suspected opioid-related overdose occurrence;
- Inform federal, provincial and territorial government and health systems action.
Based on data available from January to December 2018 among jurisdictionsFootnote 1 reporting suspected opioid-related overdoses requiring EMS services, main findings show that:
- 72% of suspected opioid-related overdoses occurred among males
- Suspected opioid-related overdoses were most common among individuals between the ages of 20 and 29 years and between the ages of 30 and 39 years
Table 1 provides case definitions of suspected opioid-related overdoses according to participating jurisdictions. As case definitions vary among jurisdictions, data should not be compared across jurisdictions.
|Jurisdiction||Reporting Period||Primary Case Definition|
|British Columbia||Jan 2017 to Feb 2019||
|Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta||Jan 2017 to Dec 2018||Documentation of opioid medical control protocol or administration of naloxone.|
|Saskatchewan||Apr 2018 to Mar 2019||Emergency response calls where Narcan (naloxone) is administered by ambulance crews and the patient has an assessment code for Possible Narcotic Overdose.|
|Winnipeg, Manitoba||Jan 2017 to Mar 2019||The number of suspected overdose cases receiving naloxone from Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS).|
|Northern and rural Manitoba||May 2017 to Mar 2019||The number of suspected overdose cases in northern and rural Manitoba receiving naloxone from EMS dispatched through the Medical Transportation Coordination Centre (MTCC) or a bystander on scene.|
|Ontario||Apr 2018 to Mar 2019||Suspected opioid overdose requiring administration of naloxone by paramedics (as indicated by Medication Code “Naloxone (610)”)|
|New Brunswick||Jan 2017 to Mar 2019||A patient who responded to naloxone that was administered by an Ambulance New Brunswick first responder for a suspected opioid overdose.|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Apr 2017 to Mar 2018||Emergency response to an opioid-related overdose where naloxone is administered by paramedics.|
|Whitehorse, Yukon||Jan to Dec 2017, Jul to Dec 2018||Paper-based patient care reports:
|Yellowknife, Northwest Territories||Jan 2017 to Apr 2019||Suspected overdose identified as chief complaint and an opioid identified as the overdose product OR suspected overdose identified as the chief complaint and naloxone administered by paramedics.|
We would like to thank all members of the Opioid Overdose Surveillance Task Group for their input and feedback, and all EMS data providers in the following jurisdictions: Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.
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