Drug related deaths in BC: the lowest since 2016

Nicole Priebe / February 24, 2020

The rate in B.C. was 19 deaths per 100,000 individuals in 2019.
(@sobittersosweet/ Twitter)

The official number of illicit drug deaths in the province are in from British Columbia’s Coroner’s Service and they’re not what you might think.

The amount of drug related deaths in BC are the lowest they’ve been in four years and this is a surprise to many.

A total of 981 deaths were recorded in 2019, the first time the total has been under 1,000 since 2017. With the townships of Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and Abbotsford experiencing the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths.

Retired Vancouver police officer, Greg McCaffrey who spent almost 30 years serving the downtown east side is familiar with the overdose crisis and warns that even thought this year’s numbers are positive, they could take a turn at any moment.

“This is really best case scenario. The number of deaths are going down and it’s proving that the measures being taken are working and that’s not something you see a lot. Though this is good news, I know from experience that things could change very quickly.” – Greg McCaffrey, VPD


drug related deaths per day occur in BC on average


decrease of deaths since last year


of deaths were people aged 30-59

Other information released today was a trend that majority of the suspected drug-related deaths involved males.

According to the report, over three quarters of the deaths in the province were males and this was supported by the statistic that men are more likely to partake in illicit drug use and have a higher rate of dependance towards substances such as drugs or alcohol.

Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry spoke on the matter saying that we have to acknowledge the victims are suffering with an illness and it should be treated as one.

Dr. Henry referred to the numbers as “encouraging”.

Were dealing with addiction. And addiction is an illness, a health condition. We are in no way out of this crisis yet. We need to change our approach so that people who use drugs are able to seek help without the fear of being charged criminally and with access to a pharmaceutical alternative, instead of what is clearly a toxic street-drug supply.” – Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer

The Province is going to continue to offer support and take measures to aid to victims of drug addiction and abuse.  They’re also going a step further by encouraging the public to educate themselves on different types of drugs, the dangers they pose and even how to assess an overdose situation.