Council Approves New Investments for Harm Reduction to Address Overdose Crisis

February 8, 2017 | Safer Communities

Today Vancouver City Council approved additional support for front-line workers battling the fentanyl opioid crisis: $220,000 to support harm reduction measures to prevent overdose deaths in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels and shelters, and $150,000 for mental health training and support for first responders.

 “In BC, Vancouver is impacted by the most horrendous overdose death toll from the fentanyl opioid crisis. The intensity and frequency of emergency calls responding to drug overdoses is putting a severe strain on all of our front-line workers,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver will continue to step up and do more than its share but the BC and Federal governments need to treat the fentanyl opioid crisis like the national health crisis it is, with urgent investments in addictions treatment, substitution therapy, and new supportive housing."

 Mayors from some of Canada’s biggest cities have launched a task force  - chaired by Mayor Robertson - on the fentanyl opioid crisis with two main objectives: first, to share front-line experiences and best practices among cities addressing the crisis; second, to work with the provincial and federal governments to better coordinate a full national response. The task force will be meeting with the federal ministers responsible for health and public safety in the coming weeks.

Council approved $2.2 million - the first phase of funding targeted for the fentanyl opioid response – in January, which went towards:

  • Continued support for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services’ mobile unit in the Downtown Eastside;
  • More naloxone and mental health and addictions training for City workers likely to encounter overdoses;
  • A new, volunteer-led Community Policing Centre in Strathcona that focuses on better integration between local residents, social supports and emergency services; and
  • More support for the 11 existing Community Policing Centres across Vancouver.