Vancouver’s mayor says he will direct staff to look for sites where drug users can access safe opioids to prevent overdoses as part of a plan recommended by an emergency task force calling for more services for people who are dying alone.
Kennedy Stewart says the number of overdose deaths has remained about the same as last year despite the best efforts of front-line workers, first responders and health professionals who seem to be fighting a losing battle.
The sites where hydromorphone may be supplied are part of an approved research project involving the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, which had already suggested making the opioid available in vending machines.
Dr. Patricia Daly, the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health and a member of the task force, says more people are dying alone in the city than elsewhere in the province because of the high number of single-room occupancy hotels and shelters, and they need alarm systems, apps or other ways to get help.
Stewart formed the task force last month shortly after taking office.
He says the report that also calls for $2.7 million in funding from the province and $770,000 from the federal government will go before city council on Thursday for approval.
The B.C. Coroners Service recorded 369 deaths in Vancouver last year and by September this year, 297 people had died.
Stewart says he has discussed Vancouver’s overdose crisis with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who seemed to be deeply sympathetic about the issue.
The Canadian Press