A new report from Statistics Canada is highlighting how the opioid crisis is affecting people across the economic spectrum in Surrey and their connection to the criminal justice system.

The data, compiled by the B.C. CoronerTwo-thirds of Surrey residents who died of ODs had no contact with police for 2 years: StatsCan s Service, shows that nearly two-thirds of people who died of an overdose in Surrey between 2011 to 2016 had no contact with police in the two years prior.

Further, nearly 70 per cent of those who died held a job in at least one of the five years before their death.

"These findings highlight the relative diversity among those who experienced a fatal illicit drug overdose, and illustrate that the opioid epidemic is not restricted to any particular group or population but rather multiple profiles and sub-populations," the report noted.

By the numbers:

  • 64 per cent of people in Surrey had no contact with police in the two years before their fatal overdose
  • 66 per cent of people had at least one year of employment in the five years before their death
  • 20 per cent of people who died and had contact with police were employed in the five years before their death
  • 75 per cent of people who did not have contact with police and 72 per cent of people who died were not hospitalized in the year before their death

The report paints a picture of the criminal justice system and how it correlates to those who had died of overdoses.

By and large, those who did come into contact with cops and courts did so for non-violent crimes, with theft cases being the most prevalent.

"Shoplifting of items valued at $5,000 or under was the most common reason decedents came into contact with police in the 24 months prior to their death, for both British Columbia overall (14%), and Surrey, more specifically (17%)," the report said.

The report's authors note their hope that by collecting the data, it might help other cities avoid an influx of overdoses or better help those who do suffer overdoses.

"Identifying the primary risk factors and those at greatest risk of preventable illicit drug-related deaths will help support the development of evidence-informed interventions, precision programming and policies aimed at preventing future overdoses and saving lives."