Even one death is too many — but Vernon’s mayor says team work between local agencies reduced the potential number of drug fatalities last year.
Interior Health says 13 people died of illicit drug overdoses in Vernon, up from eight the year before.
Mayor Akbal Mund says the year over year numbers jumped much higher in places like Kelowna and Kamloops.
“Our social planning group, the Action team, they all work together well. They work together with the RCMP, bylaws and community policing. Everybody works together,” Mund told Kiss FM.
Mund also notes the 13 deaths may not all have been in Vernon.
“Those deaths are counted as Vernon (by the BC Coroner’s Service). They’re not counted as Armstrong or Lumby, because we are the central hospital.”
There was also 108 suspected opioid overdoses at the VJH emergency department in 2016.
Councillor Scott Anderson says the city needs to push the province for more treatment programs.
“We can stop overdoses and we can stop deaths from overdoses, but that’s a bit of a band-aid solution. The real issue is addictions,” Anderson tells Kiss FM.
Council received reports on homeless numbers and drug issues from Interior health, the John Howard Society and North Okanagan Social Planning Council at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.