A handful of overdose prevention sites are being set up in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Surrey and Victoria in coming weeks.
Health Minister Terry Lake announced Tuesday morning that supports will include stationing the BC Mobile Medical Unit in overdose hot spots.
“We are seeing an alarming increase in illicit drug overdose deaths and action is required at all levels to saves lives,” Lake said. “The overdose prevention sites will ensure that people have a place where they can be safely monitored and treated immediately if they overdose.”
Two overdose prevention sites opened today at VANDU and Portland Hotel Society Washington Needle Depot in Vancouver, with the next sites to open in Victoria next week, where there have been 51 illicit drug overdose deaths from January to October.
Two sites will be opening in Surrey within the month. There have been a reporter 51 overdose deaths in Surrey.
There have been 637 overdose-related deaths across B.C. for the year up to the end of October, up markedly from the 397 deaths in the same 10 months of 2015.
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More than a third of the total overdose deaths this year – 211 – have happened in the Fraser Health region, compared to 147 in Vancouver Coastal, 120 on Vancouver Island and 108 in the Interior.
There has been no word on if overdose prevention sites will be opening in cities seeing other large numbers of deaths like Kamloops (31), Abbotsford (28), or Maple Ridge where there have been 24 deaths.