At least 46 people died on the streets in B.C. in 2014--a 70 per cent increase from the year previous. This is the highest number of homeless deaths in a single year in this province since 2008 and it marks a stark increase in the number of vulnerable lives that were tragically cut short. (See Still Dying on the Streets, for Megaphone's full report.)
Cities and towns across B.C. continue to struggle with a lack of both affordable housing and harm reduction services. With overdose deaths rising dramatically in 2015, evictions of residents in low-income buildings increasing, and affordable housing still not meeting demand, the number of homeless lives lost promises only to increase.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy - a person with a past and a future, a family, talents, hopes, and dreams. And many of these deaths could have been prevented. They are a tragic result of governments' failure to provide proper housing and social services. We can, and must, do better.
We call upon the Premier Christy Clark and the Province of British Columbia to:
1. Develop and implement a poverty reduction strategy.
2. Commit to building shelters, social housing, and supports equally across the province so that people experiencing homelessness may receive the necessary housing and health supports in their communities.
3. Fund the BC Coroners Service to create an annual report that offers deeper analysis and data about homeless deaths across the province.