Drug overdoses in Vancouver claimed average of one life a day last week

May 12 2017, 10:42 pm

An average of one person a day died of a drug overdose in the first week of May in Vancouver, according to the latest figures from Vancouver Fire Rescue Services (VFRS).

In total VFRS crews responded to 168 overdose calls and seven overdose deaths were reported.

In a release, the City said that while most calls were made in the Downtown Eastside, a number of cases outside the Downtown area “remains significant.”

“Vancouver remains at the epicentre of a public health emergency from drug overdose deaths in the fentanyl crisis,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Although no figures were given, the City says so far this year, the ratio of overdose deaths as a proportion of calls in the Downtown Eastside is lower than elsewhere in Vancouver.

Specifically, the City said, the number of overdose deaths as a proportion of calls in South Vancouver for example, is four times higher than in the Downtown Eastside.

In the first week of May, there were 119 overdose calls in the Downtown Eastside and six in South Vancouver. The number of overdose-related deaths in those areas was not given.

“The City has stepped up our on-the-ground response in the fentanyl crisis, but we urgently need action from the provincial and federal governments on health solutions to immediately save lives and get people the treatment they need,” Robertson said.

With results from the provincial election still taking shape in a number of ridings, Robertson urged “all provincial parties to focus on putting adequate funding in place, and coordinate a response to the overdose crisis that matches the scale of its devastation.”

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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