Toxic drug supply spiked Vancouver overdose calls in April

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Photo Dan Toulgoet

The city of Vancouver says the number of emergency calls for drug overdoses and suspected overdose deaths spiked in the final week of April.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services responded to 207 overdose calls from April 23 to 29 — a 74 per cent increase from the previous week.

Vancouver police also reported seven suspected overdose deaths in the same period, up from the four deaths the week prior.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the spike is the result of a toxic supply of drugs currently on the city streets, and people are urged to take precautions such as using supervised consumption sites.

The city says its supporting initiatives aimed at curbing the use of tainted drugs such as the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s pilot program to expand access to hydromorphone.

Vancouver police say 108 people have died from suspected overdoses this year, adding to the 365 people the BC Coroners Service confirmed died from overdoses in 2017.

“Lives are on the line and we will keep pushing for policy changes that will make sure people have access to safe prescription drugs rather than being forced to turn to deadly street drugs,” Robertson says in a statement.