Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and New Brunswick Acting Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Yves Leger said the uptick in opioid overdoses in Canada is alarming. .“Since 2016, Canada has seen a significant rise in opioid and other substance-related harms, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tam and Leger in a Wednesday statement. .“These harms continue to have a devastating impact on people who use substances, their families, and communities across Canada.”.The statement said the latest data shows the number of opioid-related hospitalizations and deaths remained at high levels in the second quarter of 2022, with 1,163 people needing to be hospitalized and 1,652 people dying. This represents a decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths reported in previous quarters since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. .The statement acknowledged the latest figures are higher than those in pre-pandemic years. For example, the data from January to June showed an average of 20 opioid deaths per day in Canada, compared to eight deaths per day in 2016 when national surveillance began. .Tam and Leger said what's clear is “substance-related harms remain an urgent public health crisis in Canada, fuelled by a toxic drug supply, with fentanyl contributing to a high proportion (76%) of deaths so far in 2022.”.The latest modelling projections from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) suggest the number of opioid deaths through to June will remain higher than levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. These projections predict 1,150 and 2,050 people could die of opioid overdoses each quarter until June. .Public health interventions to address the crisis across Canada include naloxone access and training, supervised consumption sites, safe supply programs, and treatment. These measures have helped address substance-related harms by meeting people where they are at. .To understand more about the people most affected by the opioid crisis, the statement said PHAC released key findings from a national study on people who died from drug overdoses in Canada between 2016 and 2017. It said the study is the first of its kind to examine detailed information from coroner and medical examiner files from each province and territory on people who died from opioids. .The findings said during this time, at least 46% of people who died of a drug overdose were likely to have been alone at that time, with no one present to administer naloxone or call emergency responders. The statement said these findings can help to identify groups of people who are at higher risk of drug-related harms, better understand their situation and needs, and offer supports. .Tam and Leger said the complexity of the crisis means “there is a continued need to leverage many diverse perspectives and strengths to help to better understand and address it.”.“We need to continue to work together to reduce the stigma associated with substance use, which we know remains prevalent and can prevent people from seeking support and accessing care,” they said. .The Alberta government teamed up with police in July to provide opioid addiction medicine by offering it to people who have been arrested in Red Deer, AB. .READ MORE: Alberta government partners with Red Deer police to offer addiction treatment."People who commit a crime must be held accountable for their actions, but we can also treat addiction as a healthcare issue while keeping our communities safe,” said former Alberta mental health and addictions associate minister Mike Ellis. .The program’s expansion to Red Deer comes after seeing significant uptake among clients in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, and rural Alberta locations. The centres saw more than 400 people referred to an opioid addiction medicine consultation between January and June.