February 23rd, 2024

Death toll among B.C.’s homeless rising, hits 342 people last year: Coroner’s report

By The Canadian Press on December 14, 2023.

British Columbia's Coroners Service is reporting a sharp increase in deaths among people experiencing homelessness. A tent is seen on the sidewalk on East Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, July 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s Coroners Service says there’s been a sharp increase in deaths among people experiencing homelessness.

A statement from the coroners service says the deaths of 342 people experiencing homelessness were reported last year, an increase of almost 140 over the past two years.

The coroners service says there were 1,464 deaths of people who were homeless in B.C. in the period between 2015 and 2022, averaging about 183 deaths per year.

Most of those deaths were in Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey, B.C., and 82 per cent of them were male.

However, the coroners service says the number of deaths has spiked significantly above the average between 2021 and 2022.

The service says the toxic drug supply has significantly contributed to the increase, with more than eight of every 10 deaths in the review classified as accidental.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2023.

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