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First week of May sees 168 overdose response calls to VFRS

May 12 2017 Seven suspected overdose deaths

"The City has stepped up our on-the-ground response in the fentanyl crisis, but we urgently need action from the provincial and federal governments on health solutions to immediately save lives and get people the treatment they need."

Checking blood pressure

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) reported 168 overdose response calls for the first week of May and Vancouver Police Department reported seven suspected overdose deaths for the same period.

This crisis is affecting people across the City

While a majority of calls were made in the Downtown Eastside, the number of cases outside the downtown area remains significant.

In fact, so far this year, the ratio of overdose deaths compared to calls to VFRS is significantly lower in the DTES compared to other areas such as South Vancouver where the deaths to calls ratio is roughly four times higher. This crisis is affecting people across the City.

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"Vancouver remains at the epicenter of a public health emergency from drug overdose deaths in the fentanyl crisis," says Mayor Gregor Robertson. "The City has stepped up our on-the-ground response in the fentanyl crisis, but we urgently need action from the provincial and federal governments on health solutions to immediately save lives and get people the treatment they need. As we wait for this week's provincial election results to take shape, I urge all provincial parties to focus on putting adequate funding in place, and coordinate a response to the overdose crisis that matches the scale of its devastation."

Addiction is a healthcare issue

There is much needed support services required in areas outside the Downtown Eastside and the City is working with partners in health to actively explore creative ways to reach users living in every part of the City.

Much collective work is needed to end social isolation and reduce the stigma experienced by people struggling with addiction. Addiction is a healthcare issue and everyone should have a right to effective, evidence-based treatment when they need it.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

The City was encouraged this week to see that the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act passed in Ottawa, providing immunity to those that call 9-1-1 to report an overdose from simple drug possession charges.

The Good Samaritan law, private members Bill C-224, is part of the federal government's Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy announced in December.

Read the reports