It’s happened again. Just as so-called “welfare Wednesday” arrives, a toxic batch of drugs has made it to the streets.
Last month it was Surrey, this month Vancouver.
Neil Arao, Manager with Vancouver Coastal Health says a suspected unknown substance tainting street drugs has led to a major spike in overdoses at Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection site.
“Yesterday we reported 14 overdoses during the entire day, and that would be 10 during the day shift, four in the evening shift. Which is unusually high. We usually see one to two overdoses a day.”
Arao says fortunately no one has died, and says police are now trying to figure out whether fentanyl is involved or another, newer substance like carfentanil.
In an email, Vancouver police say they are aware of the overdoses, and suspect that fentanyl is to blame.
He says unlike in Surrey in July, where a batch of tainted crack cocaine was to blame, the problem substance is making its way into a variety of different street drugs.
It’s still unclear how many other overdoses have occurred city-wide in that time period, and CKNW is waiting on data from Vancouver Coastal Health.
In the mean time, Arao says there is concern that a batch of toxic drugs on the street at the same time as an infusion of cash could have deadly results.
“We’ve identified in the last few months, since January, we’ve seen an increase in overdoses during cheque week, so there’s been an 80% rise of overdoses being presented at emergency departments, and even at Insite during cheque week we’ve seen a 50% increase in overdoses.”
He says to combat that risk, Insite is running a pilot project to keep the facility open 24-hours tonight through Friday.