Roughly 28 percent of B.C. men who died of an overdose before the age of 35 worked in construction, Statistics Canada said in a report on April 11, 2019 (Black Press Media files)

Most of B.C.’s overdose victims face financial hardship before death: report

Statistics Canada data looks at tax information, social assistance income in last years of life

A vast majority of British Columbians who died of an overdose struggled to maintain a job and relied heavily on social assistance, compared to the general population.

That’s according to a new study released by Statistics Canada this week, which looked at tax information of the 3,128 people who fatally overdosed in B.C. between 2007 and 2016.

The study correlated the changes to employment over the five years before each person died, and how this impacted their need for social assistance. The ages included ranged from 15 years old to older than 55.

Roughly 14 per cent of the 729 female victims were employed for all five years at some capacity, making roughly $22,000 a year. Twenty-eight per cent of the 2,399 men had continued employment, earning $42,000 annually.

READ MORE: B.C. poverty plan combines existing spending, housing programs

READ MORE: New in-depth report sheds light on who in B.C. is dying of drug overdoses

The report stated that a majority of overdose victims “occupied a position of economic vulnerability for a considerable portion of their lives” and that incomes during this time in their lives “were generally modest or low.”

During the same five years, the need for social assistance increased for almost every individual, the study found.

In their last year before death, roughly 35 per cent of those between the ages of 15 to 24 received social assistance income.

That’s compared to those between the ages of 45 to 54, where about 80 per cent of women were relying on social assistance, and 55 per cent of men.

While further analysis is needed to determine what account for the decline in employment among older age groups, the report stated that “results are consistent with the argument that regular substance use gradually erodes the capacity for work.”

Spaces for intervention possible within work forces, social assistance

Based on T-4 tax slips, the study was able to break down trend in the types of employment worked by men. Roughly 28 per cent of those who died before the age of 35 worked in construction. That percentage dropped to about 24 per cent of those who died between 35 and 54 years old.

READ MORE: Men the focus of B.C.’s deadly overdose epidemic

“Employers and workplaces, particularly those in the construction sector, are points of intervention that warrant consideration for reaching younger men,” the report suggested.

Meanwhile, given the low rates of employment among women, social service agencies could play a role in drug intervention, as well.

More than 2,800 people died in B.C. of an overdose between 2017 and 18. So far this year, 90 people have lost their life to illicit drugs, according to the latest data available from the BC Coroners Service.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wounded Warriors runners arrive in Port Alberni

Fundraising dinner will take place at Royal Canadian Legion

Arrowvale Farm near Port Alberni hosts maple syrup fest

Taste west coast maple syrup on Leap Year Saturday and watch demonstrations too

ACRD urges B.C. gov’t to upgrade Bamfield Road in wake of winter storm

ACRD board to write letter to Premier John Horgan, expressing urgency

More businesses in Port Alberni need a voice at city council, says one Uptown owner

Business owner says all businesses in the Alberni Valley need a louder voice

Port Alberni finishes strong in men’s bonspiel

Home teams make it to the finals at Alberni Valley Curling Club’s Men’s Open Bonspiel

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Comox 442 Squadron carries out two sea rescue missions north of Vancouver Island

Submitted by Lt. Alexandra Hejduk Special to Black Press 442 Transport and… Continue reading

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come five months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Most Read