Vancouver firefighters have responded to an average of 16 overdoses every day this year.
It equates to more than 6,000 calls for drugs during the first 11 months of 2017, up 28 percent for the same period during the previous year.
“This high volume is putting a continued strain on services and front-line workers,” reads a December 7 media release.
It’s also noted there that for the week of November 27 to December 3, there were five suspected overdose deaths in the city of Vancouver.
"The latest statistics on overdose deaths highlight the magnitude of the horrific opioid crisis that is tearing through our city, province and country," said Mayor Gregor Robertson quoted in the release. "Far too many precious lives have already been lost to preventable overdoses and too many families are grieving. While I commend and want to thank our heroic first responders, city staff and community service workers for their extraordinary efforts to save lives, the impact is taking a significant toll on them.
“We will continue to push hard for significant investments and a coordinated national response by all orders of government—including other municipalities, federal and provincial governments and First Nations—to end this tragic epidemic."
On December 1, the province announced it was establishing a new Overdose Emergency Response Centre at Vancouver General Hospital.
“It’s modelled after a traditional emergency management structure,” B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions, Judy Darcy, told the Straight in a recent interview. “That’s going to really accelerate everything we’re doing across the board for the overdose crisis.”
B.C. officially declared that a sharp rise in overdose deaths constitutes a public-health emergency in April 2016.
Last Thursday (December 7), Ontario did the same in response to a similar increase in deaths that accelerated over the summer of 2016.