Northern Beat, April 5, 2023
Construction workers are NOT the majority of drug overdoses, new study finds.
“Poisonings overwhelmingly involve people who are unemployed, use multiple drugs, and struggle with mental illness,” noted the report from SFU’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions.
This is “contrary to the 2018 BC Coroners Service report that said: 55 per cent of employed people who died of illicit drug overdoses between 2016 and 2017 worked in the trades and transport industries.
A 2022 study in Ontario calculated only one in 13 (7.7 per cent) of the employed people who died of toxic drug overdose in the province from July 2017 to December 2020 worked in construction and related trades.
Addictions researchers at Simon Fraser University argue that the dramatic difference in death rates between the B.C. and Ontario reports lies with a misinterpretation of definition of “employed.”
Using Statistics Canada definitions, the SFU study calculates about seven per cent of the “first-recorded poisonings” in B.C. were of people earning more than $500 in construction-related annual income.
“The narrative of substantial overlap between poisonings and construction appears to be a disservice to the vast majority of those who are at risk of poisoning and diverts attention from more robustly demonstrated safety and health-related risks in the construction sector,” the SFU report said.
Study data was drawn from online surveys completed by 639 people and interviews of “key informants” from 35 organizations, including IUOE local 115, CIRP, WorkSafeBC, and VICA.”
Read the full Northern Beat story at the link below. Or read the study findings directly.