British Columbia has the dubious distinction of being the overdose capital of Canada. Despite having just over one-third of the population, we’ve experienced more deaths and shockingly high deaths per 100,000.
Overdose Fatalities by Year:
No one is saying that overdose is murder, despite the fact that they both end up in the loss of life.
Can you imagine if a Province in Canada had a murder rate of 30.6 though?
For reference, the 2018 Canadian homicide rate was 1.76 per 100,000. The British Columbian rate was 1.78 (StatsCanada). British Columbian residents were more than 17x more likely to die from an overdose than from homicide. There is no doubt that personal responsibility enters the equation when we talk about drugs, vices and dangerous behaviour, but if we are willing to accept the premise that addiction is a disease, as is widely acknowledged in the scientific community, these rates should appal everyone.
So what does BC have that made its residents nearly 3x more likely to die from an overdose than people in Ontario? Well, there’s no simple answer, but here are some hypothetical reasons that could be at play:
- We are Canada’s gateway to the Pacific (much Fentanyl comes from China).
- Our climate is mild (homeless addicts flock to BC from all over Canada).
- BC is the most progressive province in Canada.
Is It Improving?
News is out that overdose deaths could finally be on the decline in 2019, but there are still more than 3 BC residents dying each day.
At TWC, we are at the forefront of individual recovery. We have nothing to do with public policy, but we do play a part in the implementation of public policy. We are a non-profit operating in a mostly for-profit industry. Not to comment on whether social healthcare is good or right (although the author personally likes it), addiction has managed to remain the only potentially fatal disease that treatment is not guaranteed for. If we accept that addiction is a disease, should prompt treatment not be available in all circumstances?
To fight against the trend of lower-middle-class individuals being too wealthy for welfare but too poor to afford rehab falling through the cracks, Together We Can has instituted our Fallen Sons Memorial Fund. The FSMF is a scholarship that pays for vulnerable individuals to enter evidence-based treatment and be taken care of from start to finish. Each year TWC supports over 100 individuals getting the care they need.
Our Gala, which is taking place on November 9th at the Rocky Mountaineer, is primarily in support of our Fallen Sons Memorial Fund. We need donors to continue with the life-changing work we engage in.
Written for Together We Can by Tristan Elliott, a third-year BBA student who currently works as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator. He is passionate about issues affecting the local community, economy, and Canada as a whole.