A majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs – this comes as opioid overdoses in British Columbia reached their deadliest peak to date.
According to a new Angus Reid study of 5,003 people, 59 per cent favour decriminalization. The number was higher (64 per cent) amongst those who know someone personally affected.
The COVID-19 pandemic came with the province’s highest fatal overdoses from opioids in 2020 – a total of 1,716 were confirmed by the BC Coroner Service.
A total of 11 per cent of B.C. residents said they know someone who has died from an overdose, which is more than double compared to the five per cent from other provinces.
READ MORE: Opioid crisis to blame for shorter life expectancy in B.C. men, says Stats Can
Canadians in general want something to be done about the rising overdose death toll.
According to the study, two-thirds support increasing access to supervised injection sites, where people who use drugs can do so while being monitored by health professionals.
Conversely, 45 per cent of Canadians say it would be better to crack down on users and increase arrests and charges for possession of illicit substances.
In Quebec and Nova Scotia, only half of those surveyed think the opioid epidemic is a serious societal issue to begin with.
RELATED: With 1,716 deaths, 2020 deadliest year of overdose crisis in B.C. history
Regardless of their stance, Canadians have admittedly spent less time thinking about the “opioid crisis,” which was first declared in 2016 by B.C. health officials.
Back then it was front of mind for 42 per cent of Canadians, who said they discussed the deepening issue with their friends and family.
However, with COVID pandemic taking hold across the country, that number has dropped to just 16 per cent of people now saying they involve it in daily conversation.
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