After two consecutive months of record-high overdose deaths in the province, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) crossed another grim milestone on Tuesday. The month of July saw paramedics respond to the highest one-month total of overdose calls across the province since the overdose crisis was declared a public health emergency in 2016.
On Twitter, BCEHS said the province saw “over 2,700 overdose calls in BC last month,” and the highest number of calls were for those between 21 and 40 years old.
“Overdoses are in every community, whether Parksville, Pemberton or Port Coquitlam,” said BCEHS. “We are saddened by these numbers.”
In a statement, BC’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy called the numbers “heart-breaking.”
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She added there have been “devastating consequences for people who use substances during dual public health emergencies. The illicit drug supply is more toxic than ever before.”
Darcy’s statement came as part of an announcement that the BC government is accelerating its response to the overdose crisis with $10.5 million in funding to battle “an increasingly toxic illicit drug supply due to COVID-19.”
The province said the funding will further scale up overdose prevention services, expand access to safe prescription alternatives to separate people from toxic street drugs and add new outreach teams to help prevent overdose deaths, save lives and connect more people to treatment and recovery throughout the province.
The funding will also go towards the opening of 17 new supervised consumption services and 12 new inhalation services in communities across the province.