It has never been more urgent to act.
That’s what Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is saying after Council received its latest update on the ongoing opioid overdose crisis.
Vancouver had 215 overdose deaths last year, the highest in B.C.
Crews from Vancouver’s Firehall #2 on the Downtown Eastside alone responded to almost 3,000 overdose calls.
City Council is now weighing how to spend up to $3.5-million in funding to combat the situation.
That includes funding for a mobile medic unit at Firehall #2, more naloxone training for city staff and community support workers, and a new Community Policing Centre in Strathcona.
The money comes from a new 0.5% property tax approved last month.
Robertson adds he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at last week’s Big City Mayors’ conference, and reiterated the need for Ottawa to treat the overdose crisis as a public health emergency.
Last week, the BC Coroner’s service announced 914 British Columbians died of illicit drug overdoses in 2016, 142 of them in December alone.
The majority of those deaths are suspected to be from fentanyl and carfentanil, however conclusive toxicology results aren’t expected until March.
With files from Caleb Harder