According to government data, early 4,000 Canadians died from apparent opioid overdoses last year, with men the most likely victims and fentanyl the clear culprit.
The numbers released Tuesday came as the federal government announced plans to severely restrict the way drug companies market opioids to doctors.
The death toll rose to almost 4,000 in 2017 from about 3,000 in 2016.
The figures show that 78 per cent of victims were male and that fentanyl or fentanyl analogues were blamed for 72 per cent of all overdose deaths.
For the next month, the department will seek comments on restricting marketing practices and will ask drug companies to voluntarily stop marketing activities associated with opioids until regulations are in place.
The department said the new rules will include administrative fines that can be quickly levelled, to possible criminal charges.
The numbers for apparent opioid-related fatalities show a national death rate of 10.9 for every 100,000 people in the population in 2017, up from 8.2 in 2016.
British Columbia remains the province hardest hit by the opioid crisis, with 1,399 deaths. The toll was up from 974 recorded in 2016.
The B.C. deaths came to a rate of 29 for every 100,000 population.
Ontario had 1,125 deaths last year, an increase from 726 in 2016. The Ontario figure represented a death rate of 7.9 for every 100,000 people. – CINEWS