Manitoba Daily

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Counting murders in Canada based on overdose deaths

Key takeaways:

  • Homicide charges in Canada can be classified as pre-fentanyl or post-fentanyl due to investigations into overdose deaths.
  • The Ontario Provincial Police told W5 that no homicide charges had been filed in overdose deaths this year.

Following investigations into overdose deaths in Canada, homicide charges can be divided into pre-fentanyl and post-fentanyl.

The Canadian who had a hand in comedy performer John Belushi’s overdose death in 1982 and three deaths in which manslaughter charges were made between 1993 and 2008 were among the incidents W5 discovered before the present ongoing opioid crisis. All three led to convictions, one of which was upheld by Canada’s Supreme Court.

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However, beginning in 2016, W5 saw a dramatic increase, with 135 manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death charges filed by police and prosecutors across Canada.

To begin, the open-source inquiry combed through news and legal databases. The number of charges laid by the police services in those reports was contacted, and the survey was broadened to include Canada’s largest police services.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), which has laid 63 of the 135 charges recorded by W5 since 2016, issued news releases while others provided statistics. 

In that time, fifteen other police agencies across Ontario filed 25 drug-related homicide charges, making Ontario the country’s most populous province the national leader in drug-related homicide charges (65 percent ).

The number of homicide charges filed in overdose deaths peaked in 2019 at 65, then dropped to 11 in the first ten months of 2021, after falling by more than half in 2020. The Ontario Provincial Police told W5 that no homicide charges had been filed in overdose deaths this year.

The final score excludes one second-degree murder accusation against a mother in the 2017 overdose death of a newborn, which was later stayed. Still, it does include one case in which a first-degree murder charge was initially filed but later modified to manslaughter. 

In that case, the charge was dropped once the individual pled guilty to drug trafficking charges, a common occurrence in many of the cases W5 looked into.

As many of the instances examined by W5 progress through the legal system, the outcomes will reveal if the homicide charges “stuck” or had any other impact in combatting the opioid pandemic.

Source: CTV News

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