National Surveillance of Opioid-related Harms Published: ()
Canada continues to experience a serious and growing opioid crisis. Across the country, it is having devastating effects on families and communities. The Government of Canada works closely with the provinces and territories to collect and share data to monitor opioid-related harms, including mortality data.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Data
To obtain a more complete picture of the crisis, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) information is being presented at the national level to examine suspected opioid-related overdoses occurring in pre-hospital settings.
EMS data include information documented by EMS providers generally in the form of electronic or written reports. In this second quarterly release, EMS data on suspected opioid-related overdoses were available from seven jurisdictions across Canada: Yukon (Whitehorse), Northwest Territories (Yellowknife), British Columbia, Alberta (Edmonton and Calgary), Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Government of Canada in collaboration with provinces and territories will continue to coordinate efforts to present a more complete, national picture of suspected opioid-related overdoses involving EMS responses in subsequent reports.
Why are EMS data important?
EMS providers are typically the first health care workers who respond to opioid overdose emergencies occurring in pre-hospital settings. Having access to such timely data will help to identify populations who may be at risk and to inform the development of public health interventions and policies at all levels of government.
What did we learn from data on administration of naloxone by EMS?
Naloxone is a medication that can help reverse the effects of opioids. Based on data available among jurisdictionsFootnote 1 reporting data for naloxone administrations by EMS providers, main findings show that:
- 2 out of 3 suspected opioid-related overdoses occurred among males
- Suspected opioid related overdoses were most common among individuals between the ages of 20 and 29 years
Suspected Opioid-Related EMS Events in Canada in May 2017
Use the map below to see the number and rate of Suspected Opioid-related Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Responses in participating jurisdictions. Navigate the map using Tab or Hover. Once a province is selected, Zoom using Click (when hovering) or Spacebar (when tabbing). Please note: As case definitions vary across jurisdictions, data should not be compared across jurisdictions. Cities have been enlarged for better data visualization and user interactivity. Suppressed: data has been suppressed due to small counts.
Suspected Opioid-related Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Responses as per Winnipeg, Manitoba's case definition.
Between January 2017 and June 2018, there were 1,022 suspected opioid-related overdose EMS responses in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This corresponds to an annual rate of 87.4 per 100,000 population and an average of 57 responses per month.
The largest proportion of suspected opioid-related overdoses occurred among males and females between the ages of 20 and 29.
In May 2017, there were 65 EMS overdose responses reported in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Table 1 (below) provides case definitions of suspected opioid-related overdoses according to participating jurisdiction. As case definitions vary among jurisdictions, data should not be compared across jurisdictions.
|Jurisdiction||Reporting Period||Primary Case Definition|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Jan 2017 – Mar 2018||Emergency response to an opioid-related overdose where naloxone is administered by paramedics.|
|New Brunswick||Jan 2017 – Mar 2018||A patient who responded to naloxone that was administered by an Ambulance New Brunswick first responder for a suspected opioid overdose.|
|Northern and rural Manitoba||May 2017 – Jun 2018||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.|
|Winnipeg, Manitoba||Jan 2017 – Jun 2018||The number of suspected overdose cases receiving naloxone from Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS).|
|Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta||Jan – Dec 2017||Documentation of opioid medical control protocol or administration of naloxone.|
|Whitehorse, Yukon||Jan – Dec 2017||A suspected opioid-related overdose is classified according to the following criteria:
|Yellowknife, Northwest Territories||Jan 2017 – Jun 2018||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.|
|British Columbia||Jan 2017 – May 2018||
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, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.
For more information
- National report: Apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada (June 2018)
- Opioid-related harms in Canada (Infographic)
- Get the facts on the opioid crisis in Canada
- Opioids data, surveillance and research
- Responding to Canada's opioid crisis
- Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy
- National report: Apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada (March 2018)
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