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1 in 5 British Columbians know someone who has died from opioid drug use: poll

B.C. suing opioid manufacturers

A new poll is shedding light on just how many British Columbians are being impacted by the toxic drug crisis.

One-in-five people living in B.C. know someone who has died as a result of opioid use, according to an online survey by Research Co.

The findings, which were released Friday, shows even more people living in the Fraser Valley—27 per cent—have lost someone to opioid drugs.

According to the poll, 36 per cent of British Columbians know someone in their community who has used opioid drugs in the last year—with 12 per cent reporting that the individual is a family or household member as opposed to a friend or extended relative (17 per cent) or acquaintance (13 per cent).


However, the findings also show people are slightly less concerned about the use of prescription of non-prescription opioid drugs in their community, compared to five years ago.

In a similar poll conducted in October 2018—two years after B.C. declared a public health emergency over the opioid crisis—64 per cent of British Columbians described the situation as a “major problem.”

Five years and thousands of opioid-related deaths later, 61 per cent of people expressed that same view.

What has increased is the number of people who are dissatisfied with how the prime minister and federal government are addressing the epidemic.

More than half—56 per cent—think Ottawa has done a “bad” or “very bad” job coming up with solutions to deal with opioid use nationwide, up 14 points from the previous poll.

The findings also show nearly half of British Columbians aren’t happy with how the province is handling the situation.

Forty-eight per cent are dissatisfied by actions from their MP, up 17 points from the total in 2018.

Premier David Eby and his government have let down 45 per cent of respondents.

Meanwhile, 44 per cent of survey participants said they weren’t happy with their mayors and councillors, while 43 per cent don’t like how their MLA has handled the issue—marking a nine per cent and 13 per cent increase, respectively.


When it comes to solutions, more than two-thirds of British Columbians agree that the province needs to create more spaces for drug rehabilitation, improve education and awareness campaigns about drug use as well as reduce the prescription of opioids.

While 63 per cent of respondents agreed that safe supply programs—which allow health professionals to prescribe alternatives to the illicit supply—Research Co. found support varies between political parties.

Fifty-five per cent of people who voted for the then-BC-Liberals in 2020 agreed with safe supply programs, while that number grew to 68 per cent among NDP voters and 73 per cent for those who cast a ballot for the Green Party.

Supervised consumption sites have the support of 58 per cent of total respondents.

Only four in 10 people are in favour of decriminalizing all drugs for personal use.

B.C. became the first province in Canada to decriminalize the personal possession of small amounts of some illicit drugs on Jan. 31 for a three-year trial.

The measure won’t reduce the number of illicit drug deaths, the province’s mental health and additions minister said earlier this year, but Jennifer Whiteside hopes it will help destigmatize substance use and encourage those struggling with addiction to seek help.

B.C.’s chief coroner says there’s no indication that prescribed safe supply is linked to any opioid-related deaths in the province.

At least 12,046 British Columbians have died from toxic drugs in the seven years since the province declared a public health emergency over the crisis. Top Stories

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