Victoria, and British Columbia as a whole, has seen an alarming increase in the number of deaths among homeless people, according to the most recent data compiled by the BC Coroners Service.
In 2015, there were 73 homeless deaths in the province. In 2016, that number more than doubled, with a total of 175 deaths.
Out of these 175 deaths, 56% were considered accidental, 23% were classified as natural, and 11% resulted from suicide.
Additionally, accidental substance poisoning played a role in the vast majority of these deaths. 86% of all accidental deaths in the province and 53% of all homeless deaths in total involved unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning.
In comparison, from 2007 to 2015, deaths from unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning accounted for only 63% of accidental deaths and a minority 34% of all deaths on average.
Victoria sees increase in homeless deaths
The three BC communities with the most deaths in 2016 were Vancouver (43), Surrey (17), and Victoria (16).
While Victoria saw just one less death than Surrey in 2016, for almost every year between 2007 and 2013, our city consistently outnumbered the Lower Mainland community.
The BC Coroners Service’s report includes homeless people living outdoors, staying in make-shift shelters, and those residing in short-term shelters, safe-houses, or transition-homes.