Together We Act
Raising funds to support solutions to the toxic drug poisoning crisis.
Unintentional drug overdoses are a public health crisis that have caused more than 13,700 deaths since being declared a public health emergency in BC in April 2016. In 2023, the highest number of deaths ever in one year was recorded — over 2500 people lost their lives — each one preventable. An estimated 225,000 people in BC are at risk of unregulated drug injury or death.
The situation worsened during the pandemic, with people increasingly using in isolation, while illicit, unregulated drugs became even more poisoned with dangerous substances. Fentanyl remains the main contaminant in most unregulated substances. Unfortunately, higher amounts of contaminants, such as benzodiazepines, are making life-saving overdose preventions, such as naloxone, ineffective. And there is no overdose-reversing intervention like naloxone for stimulants, which are increasingly more toxic as well.
Together We Act is a public health campaign raising funds to support solutions to the toxic drug poisoning crisis.
Please read more about this campaign’s impactful projects below.
A tragic impact
The toxic drug poisoning crisis is having a tragic impact on people facing inequities and injustices due to systemic issues, including oppression, harmful drug policies, prohibition, and misinformation. Decriminalization, although potentially beneficial in reducing stigma and criminalization, does not address the toxicity and variability of the unregulated drug supply, nor save lives. People experiencing poverty, housing insecurity, incarceration, and other social determinants of health are disproportionately represented in reported statistics.
In 2023, 70% of people dying were between the ages of 30 to 59 and 77% were male, while 80% of deaths occurred in private residences or other indoor locations, such as social and supportive housing or shelters. Data from 2022 and 2023 show that Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health continue to have the highest number of deaths, while in 2023, Northern Health and Vancouver Coastal Health have the highest rates. Data from 2022 show that 35% of those who died were employed at the time of their death, and over half of those employed worked in the trades, transport, or as equipment operators.
Data from 2022 show that 35% of those who died were employed at the time of their death, and over half of those employed worked in the trades, transport, or as equipment operators. In 2023, 69% of people dying were between the ages of 30 to 59 and, since 2021, 78% were male, with a large majority of deaths in private residences or other indoor locations, such as social and supportive housing or shelters. Data from 2022 to date show that Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health continue to have the highest number of deaths, while Northern Health has the highest rate.
We also know that First Nations peoples are overrepresented in the toxic drug poisoning crisis. Data collected in 2022 showed that First Nations people died at 5.9 times the rate of other BC residents, with women dying at 11.2 times the rate of other women in BC, and men dying at 4.7 times the rate of other men in BC. As Indigenous communities continue to address the immense harms that have been created by years of oppression and colonialism, these statistics tell a story of that history and how it is tied to lives lost, systemic racism, and intergenerational trauma.
Every single statistic reflects not just one human life lost, but countless others devastated by their loss.
We know that people are losing their lives, every day, and we need this to end.
Deaths are preventable, but require urgent action — innovative solutions, flexible and bold policies that value human rights, evidence grounded in lived and living experience, and greater collaboration across communities, governments, public health, and healthcare.
We need to drive change by taking action on the toxic drug poisoning crisis — before more lives are lost.
The Foundation has long supported harm reduction, overdose response, people with lived and living experience, and stigma reduction experienced by those who use substances. Thanks to our donors, we have been able to take action on these initiatives, and with your support, we will continue to do so.
As a leader in public health and the only charitable foundation in BC fundraising for public health initiatives, with and in support of our partners throughout BC, the Foundation is committed to acting on the toxic drug poisoning crisis with a multi-pronged, anti-racist, culturally safe approach that supports a range of initiatives.
Current solutions include advocating for policy change — particularly for low-barrier availability and new models for safer supply — as well as increased education in communities, and more tangible and inter-connected solutions that strike at the heart of this complex issue with thoughtful, stigma-free, and innovative strategies that support multiple population needs.
Our goal is simple yet powerful — to create a healthier and safer world for everyone by working with BC communities to drive public health initiatives that support the best possible outcomes and opportunities.
The Foundation is raising $1 million for the Together We Act campaign to fund timely, ethical, and evidence-driven projects that will support people who use drugs.Donate Now