BC Coroner revises heat death figures, says it could still rise

Heat deaths expected to rise

BC Coroners Service is revising the number of people who died as a result of our record heatwave and warning that the number is expected to change again.

The BC Coroners Service announced on Monday that 815 people died during the week of June 25-July 1, 2021. Tuesday, they then announced they believe 580 of those deaths are due to heat. The five-year average for deaths during that week is just 198.

But CTV News Vancouver is now reporting that the chief medical health officer and coroner say that 580 figure could grow.

“That’s a working number, that is not a final number yet,” chief coroner Lisa LaPointe told CTV. “The medical certificates for some were signed as ‘interim’ which means the cause of death is pending final resolution of review of medical records and interviews with families.”

U.S. officials have already published detailed demographic information, but the same findings will take much longer in British Columbia.

“Our challenge, of course, is while we had a 400 per cent increase in death, we still have the same number of staff,” said LaPointe. “Our coroners are doing the very best they can in terms of gathering information.”

Most of those who died during the heatwave were from the Fraser Health Authority; 122 were from the Interior Health region.

-with files from CTV News Vancouver

More BC News