Health Canada is warning a new synthetic opioid 20 times more potent than fentanyl is increasingly showing up in Canadian morgues.Isotonitazene, which was first detected in Montreal in 2019, is now the most frequently detected synthetic opioid in Canada and has been linked to a growing number of deaths, including a 15-year old Montreal boy last month.Mathis Boivin thought he was taking a single dose of OxyContin for the first time on the night of December 21 2023. He never woke up.According to his father Christian, he was a “normal” teenager who had many friends and liked travelling and music..89% of opioid deaths are in British Columbia, Alberta and OntarioHealth Canada.Isotonitazene is similar to other synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and methadone. But unlike naturally occurring opiates such as heroin and morphine, it’s synthesized in a lab, often using chemicals from countries such as China.Since 2020 it has been blamed for at least 14 deaths in Montreal alone.Experts have said isotonitazene — which is being sold as fake quaaludes or “dillies” — is becoming more common because it’s easier to make and the chemicals are easier to obtain.In November, the BC Interior Health (BCIH) department issued an advisory after a series of overdoses in places such as Kelowna.“Isotonitazene is equally or more potent than fentanyl,” said BCIH. “This means that these fake tablets may be 20-plus times stronger than real dilaudid or hydromorphone tablets.”According to Health Canada the number of opioid deaths rose 5% in the first six months of 2023 while the number of hospitalizations climbed 11%. The vast majority — 89% — occurred in BC, Alberta and Ontario. .There were more than 20,000 EMS responses to suspected opioid-related overdoses in the same period and last year is shaping up to be an all time record. According to the most recent data, about 22 people are dying across Canada each day.In December, Alberta RCMP said they had responded to twice the number of overdoses — 1,026 incidents of all kinds — in 2023, while the government’s substance use surveillance system recorded 1,411 deaths to the end of September.It’s numbers like those that are prompting so-called ‘safe supply’ advocates to pressure governments to increase access to doctor-prescribed narcotics, even in Alberta.On Tuesday, a handful of activists marched through downtown Calgary to the Law Courts building to protest the UCP government’s policies on safe consumption sites and call for safer, regulated alternatives.But in a statement to the CBC Alberta's Mental Health and Addictions Minister Dan Williams said the government remains adamantly opposed to the idea."Our government was explicit when we made any so-called 'safe supply' program illegal in Alberta, ensuring these failed, dangerous policies do not have a place in our province. Supplying high-powered drugs to people suffering from addiction will only make matters worse."