Vancouver City Council got an update on how the city is dealing with the ongoing drug overdose crisis, and it appears that things are still going south.
As of April 12, there have been 110 drug overdose deaths in Vancouver.
There were just over double that many the previous year – 215 deaths in Vancouver in all of 2016.
Based off those numbers, the city says we are on pace to see 400 overdose deaths in Vancouver this year.
In a statement, Mayor Gregor Robertson was critical of the B.C. government for not investing the $10-million they got from the federal government to respond to the drug crisis.
Robertson says the province has yet to invest those funds for treatment-on-demand, substitution therapy or clean prescription opioids.
“The status quo is a disaster – how many more hundreds of lives will be lost, and families impacted, before we see urgent action from the provincial and federal governments to deliver effective health solutions that save lives?”
The city is calling for $8-million of those funds to go toward immediate injection therapy and psychological support for patients in Vancouver.
They suggest the remaining $2-million should go toward other regions experiencing high rates of overdose deaths in the province.
At the heart of the crisis is Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services, who reported 134 overdose calls in the first week of April, 115 calls the week before.
Meanwhile, for their part, Vancouver Police reported seven suspected overdose deaths just last week.
B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall was in attendance at the meeting to outline the steps the province would be taking to address the crisis.
Kendall says substantial improvements in the availability of overdose preventatives have been made in the last year.
“We’ve seen a big expansion in access to the delivery of Naloxone, a prescription is available to anybody. We’ve delivered some 28,000 kits to individuals, community members, people who are at risk and their families…RCMP and city police and municipal police are now trained to deliver Naloxone as are all first responders in B.C.”
READ MORE: VPD confirms officers use of naloxone kits
Meanwhile, the number of people actively seeking help has increased as well.
“We’ve seen a substantial increase of people who are in opioid substitution therapy, about 24,000 last year, up from about 18,500 the year before”
Kendall says a combination of these aspects will help to curb the epidemic.