More numbers on overdose calls have been released by Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.
For the week of April 17, Vancouver Fire is reporting 169 overdose response calls.
That’s a 29 per cent increase from the previous week.
Jonathan Gormick with Vancouver Fire and Rescue says the increase is disheartening.
“We see week to week fluctuations but the overall trend is an increase in calls and unfortunately an increase in deaths.”
Areas like the Downtown Eastside contribute a huge part of that number, and Gormick says many of their efforts have been focused on that area.
“We may have done all we can in terms of front line harm reduction. You know, we’ve got safe consumption sites, we’ve got naloxone into the hands of users, into the hands of first responders and I think that’s done a massive amount to decrease the deaths.”
And despite the increase in deaths, he still strongly believes in their approach.
“Without those measures, the number of deaths would be triple or quadruple, astronomically higher than what it is now. But, I think the problems that we’re seeing are that those harm reduction methods aren’t percolating outside of the downtown eastside effectively.”
He says it seems stigma is keeping people using behind closed doors, alone, in areas where the death-from-overdose rate is much higher.
Officials say during the same period there were eight overdose deaths, though tests are still being conducted and that number needs to be confirmed by the B.C. Coroners’ Service.
That would bring the total number of overdose deaths in Vancouver this year to 126.
In the same statement, Vancouver officials say the response from the B.C. Government has been status quo, and are urging the province to incorporate “urgent health care interventions.”
With files from Ria Renouf