August 25, 2016 - 9:00 PM
VANCOUVER - Workers at Vancouver's supervised-injection site have been dealing with a higher-than-normal number of drug overdoses this week as the facility expands its hours to deal with the region's opioid crisis.
There were 26 overdoses in and around Insite over the two days between Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 12 of which took place during the facility's inaugural 24-hour shift that launched Wednesday at 9 a.m.
The increased hours are part of a pilot project that Vancouver Coastal Health said will continue for up to six months.
The program will see the facility remain open around the clock from Wednesday to Friday once a month when income assistance payments go out, which it said is associated with increased drug activity.
So-called welfare Wednesday came a day early this week, with cheques going out on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman with Vancouver Coastal Health said the usual number of overdoses is six to seven on the day social assistance is distributed.
Carrie Stefanson said no one died and the reason for the spike in overdoses is unclear.
The typical number of visits to Insite per standard 18-hour day is 700, whereas only 692 visits occurred in the 24-hour period from Wednesday to Thursday.
British Columbia's chief medical officer declared a state of emergency earlier this year following an increase in drug overdose deaths, many of which were linked to the dangerous opioid fentanyl.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016