We hope you found this article interesting, enough to read to the bottom. Help us publish more in 2022.

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past two years, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

We’re on a mission to add 650 new monthly supporters to our ranks to help us have another year of impactful journalism – will you join us?

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Help us hit our year-end target of 650 new monthly supporters and join Tyee Builders today.
We’re looking for 650 new monthly supporters to fund our newsroom – are you one of them?

Small independent news media are having a moment – we’re gaining supporters, winning awards, and publishing more impactful journalism than ever. We’re starting to see glimmers of a hopeful future for independent journalism in Canada.

The Tyee works for our readers, because we are funded by you. We don’t lock our articles behind a paywall, and we focus all of our energy into publishing original, in-depth journalism that you won’t read anywhere else. It’s our full-time job because readers pay us to do it.

Over the last two years, we’ve been able to double our staff team and publish more than ever. We’re gearing up for another year and we need to know how much we are working with. Thousands of Tyee readers have signed up to support our independent newsroom through our Tyee Builders program, and we’re inviting you to join.

From now until Dec. 31, we’re aiming to bring aboard 650 new monthly supporters to The Tyee to help us do even more in 2022.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Help us hit our year-end target of 650 new monthly supporters and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up
Rights + Justice

BC’s Rate of Drug Toxicity Deaths Has Overtaken Ohio and Pennsylvania

The coroner reports that 184 people died in July, and the province’s rate of death now stands at 40 fatalities for every 100,000 people.

Jen St. Denis 29 Sep 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Jen St. Denis is The Tyee’s Downtown Eastside reporter. Find her on Twitter @JenStDen.

The BC Coroners Service reported today that 184 people died of toxic drugs in July, making that month the deadliest this year.

It’s another troubling sign that British Columbia — which already has the deadliest drug toxicity problem in Canada — is on track to record even more deaths in 2021 than in 2020, when deaths began rising steeply as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

In 2021, an average of 172 people have died every month, up from 144 in 2020. So far, 1,204 people have died in 2021, compared to 1,734 in 2020. The per-capita rate has also ticked up, to 40 deaths per 100,000. That’s a higher rate of drug overdose death than in opioid-ravaged states like Ohio (38.3), Maryland (38.2) or Pennsylvania (35.6) — but not quite as dire as Delaware (48) or West Virginia (52.8).

In Vancouver Coastal Health, the rate is 47 deaths per 100,000, and it's 46 per 100,000 in Northern Health.

If British Columbia’s death rate doesn’t slow down, over 2,000 people could die this year of a drug overdose.


There has been a delay in reporting the deaths because the Coroners Service had to investigate 719 sudden deaths that happened in June and July during an unprecedented heat dome. Overdose death numbers for August are still not out.

As federal leaders jockeyed for votes in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 20 election, drug policy advocates said they were looking for concrete action — but the parties were coming up short.

“We want them to talk about decriminalization in an educated way. We want them to talk about legal regulation similar to alcohol, tobacco and cannabis,” said Leslie McBain, one of the founders of Moms Stop the Harm, an advocacy group of parents who have lost family members to drug-related harms or substance abuse.

“We want them to talk about a declaration of a public health emergency. We want to know how much money they’re willing to spend on these things, and we don’t hear that.”

Here is some recent reporting from The Tyee on the drug poisoning crisis:

Campus Life Is Returning. Will Toxic Drug Deaths Increase Too?

This Overdose Awareness Day, Activists Will Again Hand Out Safe Drugs

One Family, Two Deaths, 18 Years of Drug Policy Failure

BC’s Overdose Failure: ‘Each One of these Deaths Was Preventable’

Five Ways to End the Toxic Drug Crisis. From the Frontlines  [Tyee]

Read more: Health, Rights + Justice

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll