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Five homeless deaths in Prince George in 2016

A homeless man at his camp spot at the foot of Third Avenue in Prince George. Bill Phillips photo
A homeless man at his camp spot at the foot of Third Avenue in Prince George last summer.

Five homeless people died in Prince George in 2016, according to report released by the BC Coroners Service.

That number was up from two homeless deaths in the city in 2015 and three in 2014.

The  report summarizes all deaths between 2007 and 2016 where the deceased met the BC Coroners Service definition of homeless. Reportable deaths include all non-natural deaths, and all sudden and unexpected deaths where an individual was not under the care of a physician.

Key provincial findings:

  • In 2016, there were 175 deaths of homeless individuals in British Columbia. This figure represents an increase of 140 per cent over the previous number of deaths recorded in 2015.
  • From 2007 to 2016, there were 55 deaths of homeless individuals per year on average.
  • In 2016, 86 per cent of accidental deaths (93) and 53 per cent of all deaths resulted from unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning.
  • In previous years (2007 to 2015), deaths from unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning accounted for 63 per cent of accidental deaths and 34 per cent of all deaths on average.
  • From 2007 to 2016, Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health accounted for 59 per cent of deaths among homeless individuals.
  • In 2016, the townships with the most deaths among homeless individuals were Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and Kelowna.
  • Overall, 85 per cent of those who died were male. The percentage of females trended downwards with age. The highest proportion of females was in the 30-39 year old age group (27 per cent), and the lowest in the 60+ age group (0 per cent).
  • In 2016, 86 per cent of accidental deaths and 53 per cent of all deaths resulted from unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning. In previous years (2007-2015), this category accounted for 63% of accidental deaths and 34 per cent of all deaths on average. Motor vehicle accidents caused the next highest percentage of accidental deaths from 2007-2016 (seven per cent), followed by cold exposure and falls/jumps (both four per cent).
  • Deaths occurred more often in the later months of the year. From August to December, the average number of deaths per month was 60. From January to July, it was 36.

There are many definitions of homelessness. The information contained in the report includes deaths among homeless persons living outdoors, sheltered homeless and individuals residing in short-term shelters, safe-house or transition-house accommodation for an unknown length of time.