The number of homeless people dying on the streets of B.C. more than doubled between 2015 and 2016, in the early onset of the opioid crisis, according to new data from the coroners service.
A total of 175 homeless people died across the province in 2016, compared to just 73 the year prior. The data released Thursday includes all cases where no fixed address or permanent address was found, or the circumstances suggested homelessness.
Of those who died, 53 per cent were living on the streets, while 36 per cent were living in shelters, temporarily renting, or at a hospital, correctional or rehabilitation facility.
Roughly half of all deaths were due to a drug overdose or alcohol poisoning. In 2016, 991 people died of an illicit drug overdose, marking the beginning of a steady increase in the number of fatal overdoses linked to fentanyl.
And, lastly, by township. pic.twitter.com/EEXPwUY0wU— Ashley Wadhwani (@ashwadhwani) March 21, 2019
Vancouver saw the highest number of deaths of 43, followed by 17 in Surrey, 16 in Victoria and 10 in Kelowna.
The coroners service said the data may be under-reported because of cases where an investigator could not confirm a person’s housing status.