Vancouver to hold forum to address opioid overdoses

Counterfeit prescription drug pill laced with fentanyl.

The City of Vancouver has scheduled a public forum on drug overdoses as the opioid crisis puts increasing pressure on its budget and first responders.

Thursday’s forum at city hall is expected to hear from a network of drug users, friends and families of overdose victims, and Mayor Gregor Robertson.

A release from the city says firefighters trained to administer the overdose-antidote naloxone responded to 735 overdoses in November compared to 261 in January.

It says more needles are being discarded in parks and on sidewalks in some areas, resulting in a significant rise in sanitation service for this year’s budget.

The city says its current proposed budget for 2017 includes investments in areas such as the Downtown Eastside, where more services are needed to help with issues like poverty, mental health, addiction and homelessness.

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The BC Coroners Service has reported that 622 people died across the province from overdoses between January and November, and the city says 124 of the fatalities occurred in Vancouver.

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