In 2016, 982 people died in BC as a result of illicit-drug overdose. Data released by the BC Coroners Service confirms that 1,013 people died from illicit-drug overdose in the first eight months of 2017, putting the province on track to see 1,520 illicit-drug overdose deaths in 2017.
In April 2016, the BC government showed strong leadership by declaring a public health emergency. However, despite official recognition that drug use is a public health issue, drug users remain highly criminalized. Even more astounding is the fact that community-based service providers, grassroots organizers, and individual drug users who have been on the frontlines preventing thousands of overdose deaths remain at risk of criminal charges because they do not hold a federal exemption.