With three more reported last week, the number of overdose deaths in the City of Vancouver has already passed the total number of overdose deaths in 2016.
So far this year 232 people in the city have died from an illicit drug overdose – surpassing last year’s total number of 231, as reported by the BC Coroners Service.
In a release, the municipal government said it anticipates that at this rate, there will be more than 400 deaths by the end of the year.
“The rising number of overdose deaths this year is horrendous and absolutely heartbreaking,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We will continue to work with the new provincial government and pour City resources into tackling this crisis.”
Robertson called the situation a “public health crisis” and said it can’t become “the new normal.”
The crisis continues to put a strain on emergency services. For instance, Vancouver Fire Rescue made 568 calls in July in response to overdoses, which is “extremely high” and consistent with the previous month.
On average, first responders in Vancouver have responded to 135 overdose calls a week, this year.
Across the province, there were 780 overdose deaths during the first six months of the year.
Fentanyl is the leading cause in the spike in drug overdoses and deaths across BC since 2012.