The BC Coroners Service says preliminary figures show deaths among the province's homeless population climbed dramatically last year, compared with 2021. (Photo - The Canadian Press)
The BC Coroners Service says preliminary figures show deaths among the province's homeless population climbed dramatically last year, compared with 2021.
A statement from the coroners office says 247 deaths were recorded among people experiencing homelessness last year, a 75 per cent leap over 2020.
Coroner Lisa Lapointe says the findings highlight the risks that the homeless face every day, including physical and mental health concerns, disabilities and substance use issues.
The report shows an average of 153 deaths were reported annually among the homeless between 2016 and 2020 and deaths from toxic, illicit drugs are a key reason for the latest jump.
Murray Rankin, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing and Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, have released the following statement in response to the BC Coroners Service’s report on the deaths of individuals experiencing homelessness in B.C. from 2012-2021:
"Our heartfelt condolences go out to all of the families and friends of loved ones who have lost their lives while experiencing homelessness. The people who died were our neighbours, friends and family members and our thoughts are with everyone grieving their loss.
"Many of the people who died were men in the prime of their lives. At least 195 people experiencing homelessness died because of the poisoned illicit drug supply in 2021. Each death is a tragedy.
"The data is a stark reminder of the devastating impacts of the toxic drug crisis on people in B.C., compounded by the daily risks and health challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. We are working on all fronts to turn the tide on this crisis, including expanding treatment services and harm reduction measures like drug checking and prescribed safer supply – including for people experiencing homelessness.
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