Drug-related mortality rates in B.C. linked to timing of welfare cheques (Lindsey Richardson)

The average number of people who died of drug overdoses in B.C. over the past five years was 40 per cent higher during weeks when social-assistance payments were distributed than during the rest of the month, according to a study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Additionally, an estimated 77 avoidable deaths over the five-year period can be attributed to the timing of income-assistance cheques, the study concluded – underscoring a phenomenon that has led public-health advocates to push for the system to be changed.

“There is sort of a laundry list of harms that spike around cheque day,” says Lindsey Richardson, one of the authors of the July study and a research scientist with the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Wendy Stueck reports

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