Another horrific statistic, as B.C.’s overdose crisis continues to spiral out of control.
The Vancouver Police Department says 15 people died from overdoses in the final week of April, bringing the city’s total for the month to 41.
“The overdose crisis got dramatically worse last week with one of the highest overdose and death tolls in our history, and devastating impact on hundreds of Vancouver families,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement.
Robertson is calling on the province to take swift action, saying the current approach isn’t working.
Back in December, VPD Chief Adam Palmer made an impassioned plea for treatment on demand for those looking to kick drugs.
In February, the province opened one such facility in the Downtown Eastside, saying it would serve about 600 patients a year.
On the campaign trail today, NDP Leader John Horgan repeated his pledge that his party would take action by appointing a Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, but stayed away from any financial commitment.
“We have fully costed a three-year fiscal plan and we’re going to focus on the issues that matter to people. We’ve had a health emergency declared by the provincial health authorities for over a year now and the situation is worse, not better. It strikes me that what we’ve been doing to this point in time has not been good enough.”
Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services says it responded to 688 overdose calls for the month of April, the highest on record for 2017.
Police say there have been around 140 deaths due to overdoses in the city so far this year.
The deaths have not been confirmed by the BC Coroners Service.
Last month, BC Emergency Health Services set a grim record for the most overdose calls in a single day, at 130.
Across the province, 927 people died of overdoses in 2016. So far 2017 has claimed 347 lives, with 120 fatalities in March alone — the third highest monthly number on record.
With files from Kyle Benning