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2017 overdose deaths already surpass 2016 total, City of Vancouver estimates

August 21 2017 A suspected 232 people have died from overdose deaths in the city this year

"We will continue to work with the new provincial government and pour City resources into tackling this crisis."

Checking blood pressure

Vancouver Police Department (VPD) reported a suspected three overdose deaths for the week of August 7, bringing the total overdose deaths in the city to 232 so far this year - surpassing the yearly total for 2016 of 231 deaths reported by the BC Coroners Service.

At this rate, the City is anticipating more than 400 deaths by the end of the year.

Average of 135 overdose calls weekly

While first responders and community organizations continue to make a positive impact, more funding and collaboration across all levels of government is needed to save lives.

"The rising number of overdose deaths this year is horrendous and absolutely heartbreaking," says Mayor Gregor Robertson. "We will continue to work with the new provincial government and pour City resources into tackling this crisis. We can't be complacent and let the number of deaths from this public health crisis be the new normal."

As reported last week, first responders continue to handle an extreme volume of overdose response calls. Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VRFS) responded to 102 calls for the week of August 7, a slight decrease from the 114 reported the week prior.

On average, the City's first responders have received 135 calls weekly in 2017.

Recommended actions

The City is calling on the federal and provincial government to make this public health emergency a top priority by addressing four key pillars of harm reduction, treatment, prevention, and enforcement.  

A few of the actions recommended to both levels of government include:

  • Creating a national regulatory framework for all illicit substances and exploring decriminalization
  • Expanding addictions treatment including injectable options
  • Increasing the number of overdose prevention sites to all communities in need
  • Providing necessary services in supportive housing for people at risk for overdose
  • Implementing drug checking technology and programs
  • Amending legislation for MSP to include coverage for evidence based, psycho-social addiction treatments

Toxicology reports on the most recent deaths are not yet complete, and final overdose death numbers need to be confirmed by the BC Coroners Service.

Read the BC Coroners Services' report on Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC, January 1, 2007 to June 2017 (490 KB)