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City of Vancouver records three overdose deaths the week of July 17

Stephanie Ip

In this file photo, Vancouver Police hold a press conference warning about fentanyl being cut into illicit drugs after a spike in overdose deaths. (Ada Slivinski/24 hours)

In this file photo, Vancouver Police hold a press conference warning about fentanyl being cut into illicit drugs after a spike in overdose deaths. (Ada Slivinski/24 hours)

First responders recorded three overdose deaths in Vancouver last week, just as the city sought approval to spend the remainder of its opioid crisis fund.

Vancouver Police reported a suspected three overdose deaths the week of July 17, down from five reported the previous week. Fire rescue services saw a slight uptick for overdose calls during the same period, with 106 calls recorded, up from 100 last week.

Those numbers come the same week Mayor Gregor Robertson and council voted to approve the spending of $601,800, which is all that's left in the city's previously approved $3.5 million opioid crisis fund. The majority of the funding will go toward front-line measures and interventions.

“The $600,000 the city allocated in grants this week is crucial to getting support to the front lines for people who are putting in heroic efforts to save lives day in, day out,” said Roberson in a statement.

“I’m looking forward to working with the new Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to turn the tide on the drug overdose crisis and save lives.”

From the beginning of the year up to and including July 2, there have been more than 200 overdose deaths in Vancouver, according to aggregated coroner and police data. At that pace, the city could hit more than 400 deaths by year's end.

Last year, Vancouver firefighters assisted in 4,709 calls for overdoses, which was more than 2014 and 2015 combined. As of July 2 this year, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services has responded to more than 3,600 calls. That puts the city on track to log 7,000 calls by the end of 2017.

sip@postmedia.com

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