Vancouver Mayor says they’re ‘desperate’ to stop overdose death toll

Civilian volunteers in the DTES attend to another overdose .

Vancouver is on pace for more than 400 overdose deaths by the end of 2017.

The Vancouver Police Department reported there were 27 overdose deaths in May, while Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services recorded 667 overdose response calls in the same month.

“Four people a day are dying from overdoses in B.C.,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement.

“We are desperate for a new provincial government who will change course and take a bold approach to stopping this horrific drug overdose death toll.”

READ MORE: At least 2,458 Canadians died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016: PHAC

Robertson said the federal government gave B.C. $10 million back in February to address the crisis, but he said he has no idea how, or if, that money has been spent.

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B.C.’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said the province “must not be afraid to stop doing what’s not working” in dealing with the opioid crisis.

She said she’s encouraging the provincial government to prescribe opioids for users.

“We had hoped that last year we saw the sharp increase in overdose deaths and we had hoped that that was as high as we’d see.”

She says prescribing opioids to users can be effective but the stigma around the idea is leading to people dying in their homes.

With files from Terry Schintz

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