Illegal drug toxicity is now the leading cause of death in British Columbia, killing more people between the ages of 10 and 59 than homicides, suicides, accidents and natural diseases combined.

The province also saw over 1000 drug-related deaths in the first five months of 2023, despite the possession of small amounts of hard drugs having been decriminalized in the province as a “harm-reduction” effort endorsed by the federal government.

Data from the B.C. Coroners Service states that 1,018 people have died from drug use since the start of the year – with 227 dying in January, 193 dying in February, 204 dying in March, 218 dying in April and 176 dying in May. 

If trends continue – the number of B.C. drug deaths in 2023 will surpass 2022’s record number.

SCREENSHOT: Rates of illegal drug deaths in B.C. continue to increase. B.C. Coroners Service

Of the drug deaths reported so far this year, 85% were linked to fentanyl. Other drugs responsible for large amounts of deaths include methamphetamine and cocaine. 

British Columbia was the first place in North America to open a supervised drug injection site back in 2003. There are now many more in the province today, but while they are branded as a “harm-reduction” measure, drug deaths have skyrocketed since their introduction 20 years ago.

The provincial and federal governments have, however, opted to double down on their “harm-reduction” agenda, by giving addicts a “safer-supply” of drugs and decriminalizing hard drugs in the province. 

Multiple experts have spoken out on the safe supply agenda, noting that both British Columbia and Canada are on the wrong track. 

Drug overdoses have killed 12,264 people in B.C. since April 2016, while nationally over 32,000 people have died from overdoses since 2016. Health Canada says fentanyl was involved in 76% of these drug deaths.