VF&RS overdose response calls up 18% in March compared to February

April 6, 2017 | Safer Communities

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services reported 115 overdose calls the week of March 27, bringing the total number of calls reported for the month of March to 565, an increase of 18 per cent from February. Last Saturday, VPD issued a special warning after 12 overdoses were reported in the morning hours alone around the area of Gore and Columbia.

On April 5, Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang and City staff were in Ottawa to present to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the impact of the crisis on the city. They also highlighted important changes that the City would like to see with regard to the new Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Bill C37), specifically, that there should be more local autonomy regarding what harm reduction resources are needed to stop the crisis and that applications for exceptions to start new supervised consumption sites be simplified. Applications for two new Supervised Injection Sites in Vancouver were submitted by Vancouver Coastal Health in October and approval by the Federal Government has yet to come.

“Over 100 people have died of drug overdose in Vancouver so far this year in the fentanyl crisis – already half the number in all of 2016,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The  fentanyl crisis was declared a public health emergency almost a year ago and I’m outraged by the lack of effective action from the provincial government. Despite being awash with surplus taxpayer dollars - including the $10 million received from the federal government earlier this year - the BC government has refused to support evidence-based health solutions like clean prescription drugs, substitution therapy and treatment-on-demand to immediately save lives and curb the horrific death toll of the fentanyl crisis.”

On April 12, BC’s provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall will be speaking before Vancouver City Council to provide an update on the crisis nearly one year after he declared a public health emergency, he will be joined by Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Officer of Vancouver Coastal Health. To date in 2017, there have been over 100 overdose deaths in Vancouver – there were 215 in all of 2016. If rates of overdose deaths continue at this pace, Vancouver could see nearly 400 deaths in 2017, double the amount recorded in 2016, the year in which the crisis was declared.