VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver is on track to set another record for overdose deaths, according to the latest weekly numbers released by the city.
Vancouver Police reported five suspected overdose deaths last week, bringing the total number so far in 2017 to 100. Last year there were 215 overdose deaths.
“It’s abominable that with 100 overdose deaths already this year in Vancouver, we have yet to see effective action from the provincial and federal governments on health care solutions that will stop the death toll in this fentanyl crisis,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a written statement. “People are desperate for access to clean prescription drugs, substitution therapy and treatment-on-demand; measures that will immediately save lives and help people recover from addictions.”
Fire and Rescue Services also responded to 162 overdose calls, up from 104 the week before.
Vancouver Fire Captain Jonathan Gormick says programs like greater public and first responder access to naloxone have helped, but what people need are long term plans like treatment and mental health care, not just stop gap measures.
“It’s challenging to see people who are stuck in a cycle of either addiction or mental health problems or stuck in a socio-economic trap that they can’t get out of,” Gormick says. “That also takes a real toll on our staff.”
There were 922 overdose deaths last year in the province, nearly 23 per cent of them were in Vancouver.
The Federal Government recently announced a 10-year, $1.4 billion health-funding agreement with BC that also included an additional $10 million in immediate funding to fight the opioid crisis.