City of Vancouver calling for support of low-barrier opioid distribution pilot from provincial and federal governments

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid — 100 times more lethal than fentanyl.
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid — 100 times more lethal than fentanyl. File photo / Global News

The City of Vancouver is calling on the provincial and federal governments to help support a low-barrier opioid distribution pilot in an effort to curb overdose deaths.

Mary-Clare Zak, Managing Director of Social Policy, said the project is led by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and would provide a drug user with a safe space and a doctor to prescribe a clean, limited supply of drugs.

“At the end of the day what this would do is help keep people alive,” Zak said.

The next step is options for treatment and other resources for support.

Zak said they’d like to see the pilot project happen as soon as possible.

Last year, more than 1,400 British Columbians died due to illicit drug overdoses; 81 per cent of those deaths involved fentanyl, according to a report from the B.C. Coroners Service.

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“These deaths, we know the vast majority of them would be preventable if people would’ve had access to a clean supply,” Zak said.

In response, the federal government said it’s continuing to work with partners in responding to the opioid crisis and is increasing harm reduction measures, prevention and enforcement.

It said it’s taken actions to address the ongoing opioid crisis by including the removal of product-specific barriers to accessing prescription heroin and methadone for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

Global News has reached out to the province for comment.

With files from Michelle Morton