Mayor Robertson to Support More Funding for Frontline Workers in Fentanyl Opioid Crisis

February 3, 2017 | Safer Communities

The City is bringing forward additional measures to support front-line workers battling the fentanyl opioid crisis. This includes $220,000 that will support harm reduction to prevent overdose deaths in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels and shelters, where a quarter of overdose deaths occur; an additional $150,000 is allocated for mental health training and support for first responders.

“The fentanyl opioid crisis is a horrific public health emergency in Vancouver with an unprecedented overdose death toll,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Community groups and volunteers at pop-up sites have been heroic in their tireless efforts to save lives but the intensity and frequency of these emergency calls is putting a severe strain on all our front-line workers.

“These new investments won’t solve the fentanyl opioid crisis – better access to addictions treatment, detox and housing supports are crucial to saving lives – but they should help bring some relief. I hope all members of Council will support these measures.”

Mayor Robertson recently met with Prime Minister Trudeau to urge the federal government to take a stronger leadership role in the fentanyl opioid crisis. Canadian Mayors have launched a task force on the fentanyl opioid crisis (Chaired by Mayor Robertson) and will be meeting with federal ministers responsible for health and public safety in the coming weeks.

These new investments are the second phase of a total $3.5 million the City has allocated to address the fentanyl opioid crisis and mange response on the front-lines. Council will vote on the proposed investments Wednesday. 

Last week, Council approved $2.2 million in new measures and resources to address the ongoing fentanyl opioid crisis, including:

  • Continued support for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services’ mobile unit in the Downtown Eastside;
  • More naloxone and mental health and addictions training for City staff in the community 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.