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 66 confirmed and probable opioid-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka in the first six months of 2022, which was 31% lower than the 95 deaths in the first half of 2021. In Ontario, there were 1278 confirmed and probable opioid deaths in the first six months of 2022, which is 14% lower than the 1487 deaths in the first half of 2021. Despite this, 2022 deaths remain substantially higher than what was observed before the pandemic (2017-2019), both locally and across the province.

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. 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. See the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Surveillance Dashboard for most recent data.

Trend over Time

In 2021, there were 175 opioid related deaths among Simcoe Muskoka residents for a crude rate of 29.2 (25.0, 33.9) deaths per 100,000, which was significantly higher than the comparable provincial rate of 19.2 (18.6, 19.9) deaths per 100,000. Opioid related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka were more than 25% higher than in 2020 and 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. 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 overall.

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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 June, 2022. Please note that geographic classifications for deaths are based on the location of the incident, not necessarily the residential address of the person who died. This is different from the rest of the data on this page, where geography is based on the residential address.

OpioidDeathbyGeography

By Type of Drug

In 2021, there were 172 opioid poisoning deaths among Simcoe Muskoka residents where type of drug was available, including 142 that were related to fentanyl. This means that 83% of all opioid poisoning deaths in Simcoe Muskoka in 2021 involved fentanyl. In the two years since the start of the pandemic (2020 and 2021), over 85% of all opioid deaths in Simcoe Muskoka involved fentanyl. This was significantly higher than the three years prior to the pandemic (2017-2019), where 68% of opioid deaths involved fentanyl. The percentage of opioid deaths involving oxycodone, morphine and heroin declined significantly over this same period.

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 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 the two years since the start of the pandemic (2020-2021) there were 125 opioid poisoning deaths among adult males between the age of 25 and 44 years for a rate of 85.1 (70.8, 101.4) deaths per 100,000 and 85 deaths among males 45 to 64 years for a rate of 49.9 (39.9, 61.7) 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 half of 2022 (January to June):

  • Approximately 95% of all opioid deaths were accidental, which was slightly higher than previous years.
  • Approximately 80% of all accidental opioid deaths listed fentanyl as directly contributing to the death, which was lower than 2020 and 2021 but similar to 2019.
  • More than two-thirds of accidental opioid deaths involved only non-pharmaceutical opioids. This was lower than 2020 and 2021 but similary to what observed in 2019.
  • Non-opioid substances continue to contribute to opioid deaths (i.e. in combination). About one-third of accidental opioid deaths listed cocaine as directly contributing to the death, which was lower than 2020 and 2021 but similar to 2019. Approximately 20% of opioid deaths also listed methamphetamines as directly contributing to the death, this was the same as 2021, but 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 similar to 2021, but higher than 2020.
  • 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.
  • Nearly three-quarters of accidental opioid deaths were among those that live in a private dwelling with approximately 10% identified as homeless and another 10% living in collective dwellings (like motels and rooming houses).
  • More than three-quarters of the incidents that led to an accidental opioid death occurred inside a private residence and 15% occurred in a collective dwelling (like a rooming house, motel or shelter).
  • There was evidence of only pipe or foil for inhalation at more than 40% of all accidental opioid deaths, which was similar to what was observed in 2019. Evidence of injection drug use at only accidental opioid deaths has been decreasing substantially since 2017 (from one-third of deaths in 2017 to less than 5% of deaths since 2021).
  • There was a resuscitation attempt in one-third of all accidental opioid deaths and naloxone was used in one-fifth 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 January 12, 2023