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UPDATE: Information pertaining to northeast B.C. was added to the story.

VICTORIA, B.C. — In the Northern Health Authority, the B.C. Coroners Service reported 21 deaths of homeless individuals in 2021.

This is almost double the number in 2020, which was 11.

In northeast B.C., there were 3 deaths in 2021.

In all of B.C., there were 247 deaths in 2021, a 75 per cent increase from the number of lives lost in 2020.

The Coroners Service reported an average of about 153 deaths per year between 2016 and 2020.

Individuals between 30 and 59 years old accounted for 72 per cent of deaths, and 83 per cent were male.

Deaths of Homeless Individuals by Age Group as %, 2012-2021 (BC Coroners Service)

Of the reported deaths, 74 per cent were classified as accidental, and 87 per cent of those deaths were determined to have been caused by illicit drug toxicity.

According to the Coroners Service, in 2021, 93 per cent of all accidental deaths among people experiencing homelessness were identified as being caused by the illicit drug supply.

Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths of Homeless Individuals as % of Accidental Deaths, 2012-2018 (BC Coroners Service)

Deaths were more likely during November at 11 per cent, followed by August and December each at 10 per cent.

Deaths of Homeless Individuals by Month as %, 2012-2021 (BC Coroners Service)

Half of the deaths reported were of individuals experiencing homelessness on the streets, versus 33 per cent who were sheltered and 17 per cent unknown.

Deaths of Homeless Individuals by Type of Homelessness as %, 2012-2021 (BC Coroners Service)

The Coroners Service defines an individual experiencing homelessness as a person living outdoors or staying in temporary shelters for a short time.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.