News / Vancouver

Vancouver on track to receive 7,000 overdose calls by end of 2017

Mayor applauds provincial investment in overdose crisis

More than 2,200 wooden stakes representing the number of confirmed overdose deaths in British Columbia over the last three years, many of them painted with names of overdose victims, are placed on the ground at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday September 29, 2017.

DARRYL DYCK / The Canadian Press

More than 2,200 wooden stakes representing the number of confirmed overdose deaths in British Columbia over the last three years, many of them painted with names of overdose victims, are placed on the ground at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday September 29, 2017.

There have been 259 suspected overdose deaths in Vancouver so far in 2017, according to city staff and the fire department is on track to recieve nearly 7,000 overdose calls by December.

But Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says the new NDP government's approach to the overdose crisis is a step in the right direction.

"I’m optimistic that the new BC government’s attention to and investments in tackling the overdose epidemic will support the City’s front-line efforts and in partnership we can save lives, end mental health and addictions stigma and get people the help they need, when they need it," he said in a news release.

The provincial government has announced it will give $31.14 million to addressing the overdose crisis, $15 million of which will support community programs and $6 million of which will scale up naloxone distribution.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented level of overdose response calls and related deaths all across the province, and Vancouver has been one of the hardest hit regions,” says Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Health Officer.

The city has already invested additional funds to the crisis earlier this year, including $2 million for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and $1 million for community groups working on the front lines.

Most of the resources so far have been funnelled into the Downtown Eastside, helping workers and volunteers save lives 26 out of 27 overdose calls. In Midtown and South Vancouver, the ratio is closer to eight out of nine lives.

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