By Carly Weeks

More than 11 Canadians are dying every day on average because of opioids, according to new data from the federal government.

“The crisis is not abating,” Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in an interview on Tuesday.

Canada is the world’s second highest per-capita consumer of opioids, after the United States, which has led to widespread misuse, dependence and addiction.

The report released on Tuesday from a special federal advisory committee shows that 1,036 people died from causes related to using opioids, mainly overdoses, from January to March. That brings the total number to more than 8,000 since the start of 2016. Most of the deaths were ruled to be unintentional.

The powerful painkiller fentanyl was involved in more than 70 per cent of the deaths, the report said. The rate of death is up 5 per cent from the same time period last year, and 44 per cent compared with the same time in 2016.

Prescription and illicit fentanyl were linked to 73 per cent of the deaths from January to March, an increase of 16 per cent from the same period last year and double the rate in 2016.