WATCH: Statistics released Wednesday show Island Health has the highest rate of illicit drug overdoses per capita. Monica Martinez reports.
Advocates rally outside Ministry of Health offices, frustrated with the government’s slow action on supervised consumption sites in Victoria.
“They have been making it a priority and working on it for a decade. The time to act is now. The situation is urgent,” said Keith Cherry, a volunteer with the Social Environmental Alliance (SEA).
The numbers are startling.
Data released Wednesday by the Coroner’s Service show 488 over overdose deaths in B.C. so far this year. That’s up almost 62 per cent from 2015.
On Vancouver Island, fatal overdoses are up 135 per cent from last year with Island Health having the highest per capita rate of illicit drug overdose deaths this year.
“People are dying needlessly everyday and we know how to prevent it. We’ve been studying this issue for a decade, we know the evidence is in – supervised consumption works. It’s time to stop sitting on our hands and act to protect the most vulnerable,” Cherry said.
Victoria is one step closer to establishing a supervised site, making it a priority for the end of this year.
Island Health is in the process of applying for exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
“We have to make a step in the right direction and I know that in Vancouver at least it’s been successful so why not here?” asked SEA volunteer Georgina Kirkman.
Canada has two supervised consumption sites, Insite and the Dr. Peter Centre, both in Vancouver.
Vancouver Coastal Health is submitting requests for five more. Fraser, Northern, Interior and Island Health are also looking at setting ones up in their regions.
Advocates say this rally will be one of many pressuring the government for what they say is life saving solution.