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Aug. 31, 2023
Every month, the B.C. coroner reports how many people have died in the province as a result of using toxic drugs.
Those numbers can help define the scope of the toxic drug crisis in B.C., but what they don’t do is give a sense of who those people were. They loved and were loved and their deaths leave friends and family to cope with the loss.
Overall, about 80 per cent of those lost to toxic drugs since April 2016 have been men. More than half were over 40 years old, while about a quarter were between 30 and 39.
The coroner doesn’t keep track of the race or ethnicity of those who have died, but the First Nations Health Authority says Indigenous people make up about 16 per cent of toxic drug deaths in B.C. — a disproportionate number, given that Indigenous people make up about six per cent of the province’s population.
About 16 per cent of toxic drug deaths were recorded on Vancouver Island, and another 16 per cent occurred in the province’s Interior. The north has seen about seven per cent of toxic drug related deaths. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Coastal Health region has recorded 29 per cent of deaths and Fraser Health 32 per cent. These numbers have remained relatively fixed throughout the crisis.