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Two overdose deaths reported for the week of July 24

August 4 2017 A 62% increase in overdose response calls was reported for the same period

"I met with Premier Horgan and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy this week and am encouraged by the BC government's attention and priority to save lives from drug overdose deaths across the province," says Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Group of people being trained to give Naloxone

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) reported a suspected two overdose deaths for the week of July 24, down from three reported the previous week.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) reported a high increase in overdose response call volume, with 172 calls in total, an increase of 62 percent from the previous week.

Both suspected overdose deaths last week were reported outside of the Downtown Eastside, showing that the impacts of overdose crisis are being experienced across Vancouver.

This also illustrates that organizations working on the front lines in the Downtown Eastside are having an impact on reducing the number of deaths due to overdoses, but the work is far from done.

Quote from the Mayor

"I met with Premier Horgan and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy this week and am encouraged by the BC government's attention and priority to save lives from drug overdose deaths across the province," says Mayor Gregor Robertson. "The City, our first responders and front-line workers are ready to get to work with renewed provincial interest in solving the opioid crisis, and getting people proper addictions care when they need it, whether it be treatment on demand, clean prescription opioids, counselling or other health services."

Risk of overdose 12 times higher for Aboriginal people

Last week, Vancouver Coastal Health's chief medical health officer, Patricia Daly, brought important attention to the effects of the overdose crisis on Vancouver's Aboriginal community. Daly identified the risk of overdose is 12 times higher for Aboriginal people, compared to the rest of Vancouver's population.

The First Nations Health Authority has also just released a report indicating that although Aboriginal people represent 3.4% of BC's population, 14% of all overdose incidents in the province were experienced by Aboriginal people. This is why Vancouver City Council has made Aboriginal healing and wellness a priority.

Grants for healing and wellness support

On July 25, Council approved $148,000 in grants for non-profit organizations to provide Aboriginal people with access to healing and wellness supports such as Elder advice, counsel, and traditional healing.

The following day Council unanimously approved $265,070 to build capacity with urban Aboriginal communities in the midst of the overdose crisis. This included a $50,000 grant to the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council (MVAEC), representing 23 member organizations, to implement an Urban Indigenous Opioid Task Force.

"Indigenous people are over-represented in the opioid overdoes and deaths. The funding from the City of Vancouver is critical, as frontline agencies are being overwhelmed and most are hosting memorials weekly," says Kevin Barlow, CEO of Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council . "In taking steps to lessen the effects of this crisis on Vancouver's Indigenous community, the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council has formed an Urban Indigenous Opioid Task Force to share information and target efforts from a centralized viewpoint."

Reports

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 May 31, 2017.