By Michelle Ghoussoub, CBC News

In the waning days of his tenure as B.C.'s provincial health officer, Perry Kendall said the harm reduction policies that form his legacy have saved lives — but have not done enough to curb the devastating numbers of people in B.C. who have died of overdoses from illicit drugs.

Harm reduction is a strategy aimed at reducing the negative consequences of drug use.

B.C. is home to some of the most progressive policies surrounding harm reduction — from a clinic that distributes prescription grade heroin, toopioid vending machines, to supervised injection sites.

But it's also facing one of the worst overdoses crises in the country.

More than 1,400 people died of an illicit drug overdose in the province in 2017, making it "the most tragic year ever," according to the chief coroner.

Donald MacPherson, director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, said that B.C.'s leadership in harm reduction is a direct result of the dire situation.

"The envelope is being pushed because of the desperate situation and no one really knows what to do, because we've never seeing anything like this before," he said.

"But if we had another public policy that had failed as dramatically as our drug policy over the past few years, we'd say this is a catastrophic failure."