Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Alcohol & Drugs

Opioid Deaths

Monthly Surveillance
Trend over Time
By Geographic Area
By Type of Drug
By Age and Sex
Other Characteristics

Monthly Surveillance

Preliminary data shows that there were 33 confirmed and probable opioid-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka in the first three months of 2022, which was 25% lower than the 44 deaths in the first quarter of 2021. In the 25 months of available data since the start of the pandemic (March, 2020 to March, 2022) there have been 323 opioid-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka. This is more than 75% higher than the 182 opioid-related deaths in the 25 months prior to the start of the pandemic (February, 2018 to February, 2020).

In Ontario, there were 651 confirmed and probable opioid deaths in the first three months of 2022, which is 12% lower than the 740 deaths in the first quarter of 2021. Provincially, there have been 200 or more deaths in 21 of the 25 months since the start of the pandemic, a threshold that was never reached once previously. In the 25 months of data available since the start of the pandemic (March, 2020 to March, 2022) there have been 5,667 opioid-related deaths in Ontario. This is over 75% higher than the 3,177 opioid-related deaths in the 25 months prior to the start of the pandemic (February, 2018 to February, 2020).

These data are considered preliminary and subject to change.

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Suspected drug related deaths are routinely collected by the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario and shared with public health units monthly. These are not confirmed opioid related deaths; however, changes in suspected drug related deaths can provide an earlier indication of the trends in opioid deaths compared with other currently available sources of data which lag in reporting time. This report summarizes the most recent available data for monthly suspected drug related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka.

Trend over Time

In 2021, there were 169 confirmed and probable opioid related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka for a crude rate of 27.4 (23.3, 31.5) deaths per 100,000, which was significantly higher than the comparable provincial rate of 19.0 (18.3, 19.7) deaths per 100,000. Opioid related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka were 25% higher than in 2020 and nearly double the average from 2017-2019. The rate of opioid related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka has been significantly higher than the provincial rates since 2017. There has been a significant increasing trend in opioid related deaths both in Simcoe Muskoka and across all of Ontario since 2005; however, there was a substantial spike in deaths in 2017 relative to previous years, both locally and provincially. The Simcoe Muskoka rate had not changed significantly from 2017 to 2019 before increasing significantly in 2020. A similar sharp increase in opioid deaths in 2020 was observed for the province as a whole.

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By Geographic Area

Between 2020 and 2021, the crude rate of opioid-related deaths varied across Simcoe Muskoka. South Simcoe was the only area that had opioid mortality rates significantly lower than the comparable provincial average. Muskoka and Northwest Simcoe both had opioid mortality rates that were not significantly different from the overall provincial average. Couchiching, South Georgian Bay and the Barrie Area all had opioid mortality rates that were significantly higher than the comparable provincial average.

Between 2020 and 2021, Barrie accounted for nearly half of all opioid deaths in Simcoe County, while having 28% of the population. Orillia, Midland and Wasaga Beach also had a disproportionate number of opioid deaths relative to their population size, with approximately twice as many deaths than would be expected.

This summary table provides the full breakdown of opioid deaths by Municipalities in Simcoe Muskoka from January, 2017 through to December, 2021.

OpioidDeathbyGeography

By Type of Drug

In 2020, there were 133 opioid poisoning deaths among Simcoe Muskoka residents, including 119 that were related to fentanyl. This means that 90% of all opioid poisoning deaths in Simcoe Muskoka in 2020 involved fentanyl. This was 80% higher than the 66 fentanyl-related deaths in 2019 and was the highest number of fentanyl-related ever in one year in Simcoe Muskoka.

Please note that deaths may occur from a single opioid or from more than one opioid in combination. Therefore, the per cent of deaths by the specific opioids for a given time period may add to more than 100 per cent.

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By Age and Sex

Opioid poisoning deaths in Simcoe Muskoka are highest among adult males between 25 and 44 years of age. In 2020, there were 64 opioid poisoning deaths among adult males between the age of 25 and 44 years for a rate of 87.7 (67.5, 112.0) deaths per 100,000 and 32 deaths among males 45 to 64 years for a rate of 37.6 (25.7, 53.1) deaths per 100,000. These rates were more than double the comparable female age-specific opioid-related deaths rates.

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Other Characteristics

The heath unit routinely receives data on other characteristics of Simcoe Muskoka residents who have died from an opioid poisoning. Over the first nine months of 2021 (January to September):

  • Approximately 90% of all opioid deaths were accidental, which was similar to the previous years.
  • Approximately 90% of all accidental opioid deaths listed fentanyl as directly contributing to the death, which was similar to 2020 but higher than previous years. More than three-quarters of accidental opioid deaths involved only non-pharmaceutical opioids. This was similar to 2020 but higher than what was observed in 2018 and 2019.
  • Non-opioid substances continue to contribute to opioid deaths (i.e. in combination). About half of accidental opioid deaths listed cocaine as directly contributing to the death, which was similar to 2020 but higher than 2018 and 2019. Approximately 20% of opioid deaths also listed methamphetamines as directly contributing to the death, this was double what was observed in 2020 and four time higher than 2018 and 2019. About one-in-ten accidental opioid deaths listed benzodiazepines as directly contributing to the death which was higher than 2020 but similar to 2017-2019.
  • More than 90% of accidental opioid deaths were among those identified as white (Caucasian), this is similar to previous years.
  • Approximately half of accidental opioid deaths were among those identified as unemployed and the employment status of more than one-third was not able to be determined.
  • Two-thirds of accidental opioid deaths were among those that live in a private dwelling with approximately 10% identified as homeless and another 20% living in collective dwellings (like motels and rooming houses).
  • More than half of the incidents that led to an accidental opioid death occurred inside a private residence and one-quarter occurred in a collective dwelling (like a rooming house, motel or shelter). Nearly one-in-ten accidental deaths occurred outdoors.
  • There was evidence of pipe or foil for inhalation at more than half of all accidental opioid deaths which was higher than previous years. Evidence of injection drug use at accidental opioid deaths has been decreasing over the past three years.
  • There was a resuscitation attempt in half of all accidental opioid deaths and naloxone was used in one-quarter of accidental opioid deaths.

See the Characteristics of Individuals Experiencing an Opioid Overdose page for details of a special analysis conducted by Statistics Canada on North Simcoe Muskoka residents experiencing fatal and non-fatal overdoses from January 2018 to December 2019.

The deaths data come from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario.

Page last updated August 5, 2022