Nurses and firefighters say the spike in overdose calls is taking a major toll on frontline staff.
Now, their unions are teaming up to demand more funding and resources.
President of the B.C. Nurses Union, Gayle Duteil, says the province needs to open more harm reduction sites to relieve pressure on emergency rooms.
“We’re very pleased that the provincial government is taking these measures, but we know that this will require adequate staffing and supports, these mobile medical units and … overdose prevention sites, ” she says.
She also says there’s still a chronic shortage of speciality nurses
“I understand they are looking to bring in some casuals from three or four hospitals to staff these facilities and that’s great. But the challenge is then who is there for the hospital during this busy time? Flu season?”
President of the B.C. professional firefighters association Gord Ditchburn says the “devastating” impact is taking an emotional and physical toll on first responders.
He says local governments need to find room in their budgets for increased firefighting resources and mental health supports .
“Along with our colleagues in the BCNU we want to ensure that firefighters, nurses, police and paramedics have the necessary support they need to to ensure their safety,” he said.
Neither Ditchburn nor Duteil was able to provide a specific figure regarding new staff members or cost.