ORILLIA, ON – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has had 13 occurrences where charges have been laid for Manslaughter and/or Criminal Negligence Causing Death in relation to fatal overdoses since 2016. Eight of these occurrences were this year.
The epidemic of opioid use across Ontario and especially in Thunder Bay is continuing unabated. “There are no excuses in today’s environment to continue to allow this drug to be distributed through our communities. People are dying from opioid overdoses every day. We are continuing to hold those people who are knowingly trafficking harmful substances, such as fentanyl, in our communities accountable for these deaths” says Interim Deputy Paul Beesley, of the Investigations and Organized Crime Division of the OPP.
In the period between July 2017 and June 2018 in Ontario, there were 1,337 confirmed opioid-related deaths. Thunder Bay holds the dubious title of opioid overdose capital of Ontario with a rate of opioid-related deaths at almost triple the provincial rate. This despite the thousands of naxolone kits handed out across the city.
Public Health Ontario reports, “The highest population-adjusted rates of death by public health unit occurred in Thunder Bay Public Health Unit (22.7 per 100,000), Niagara Region Public Health (18.1 per 100,000) and Peterborough Public Health (15.4 per 100,000) (Figure 6). The overall rate of accidental opioid-related deaths in Ontario during this time period was 8.4 per 100,000.”
Police in Ontario is starting to lay charges in these overdose-related deaths. The 13 overdose-related death investigations have led to 20 Manslaughter and 12 Criminal Negligence Causing Death charges. The OPP is not the only police service to lay charges of this nature.
Other police services across the province are collectively sending the same message – there is no excuse for selling, distributing or trafficking drugs such as fentanyl when the deadliness of this drug is very well-known.
There are, in the United States and in some provinces legal actions against the manufacturers of opioids.
Anyone with information related to overdose deaths may call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or their local police. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or submit information at p3tips.com.