Thirty-two suspected overdose deaths in March recorded in Vancouver

published on April 6, 2018 in Vancouver Mayor's Office

It has been nearly two years since the Province declared the increase in overdose deaths a public health emergency and this month, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) is reporting a suspected 32 overdose deaths in March, an increase from 27 deaths reported by the BC Coroners Service for the same month last year. Despite February seeing some reprieve with 18 overdose deaths in Vancouver, this recent data signals that the crisis is not slowing down.

March also saw 486 calls to Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS), an increase of over 23 per cent from February and the highest since July of last year. The crisis continues to put enormous pressure on first responders and community services.

“We are losing our friends and family to a poisoned drug supply and a legal framework that treats addiction as a criminal issue, not a life-threatening health condition,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “People are dying from poisoned drugs every day in Vancouver and we cannot accept this preventable catastrophe – we need to ensure people with addictions can access safe drugs and effective treatment options. Decriminalizing possession, combined with health care supports including prevention, harm reduction, and treatment, will save many lives. The Province’s recent decision to allow nurse practitioners to prescribe medications as part of opioid substitution therapy is a much-needed step forward.”

Given the deepening crisis, Mayor Robertson is including an update from health officials on the April 17 Council agenda. As part of the update, the report will provide next steps for the City to tackle the crisis.

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