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The Yukon government has declared a substance-use health emergency after toxic drugs pushed overdose deaths to new peaks.

Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says the drugs are killing people and creating a mental health crisis in every community in Yukon

McPhee says the territory will act to address the emergency including using a public awareness and education campaign.

Dr. Catherine Elliott, the acting chief medical health officer, says there were a record 23 deaths last year, a 475 per cent increase from 2019.

Chief coroner Heather Jones says in the first weeks of this year four more deaths were confirmed, while three others are thought to be drug-related.

RCMP Chief Supt. Scott Sheppard says he believes a solution could be found through better health measures, although housing, mental health and poverty are also issues that need to be addressed.

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