Vancouver's police chief says the fentanyl crisis hit a brutal low point Thursday with the overdose deaths of nine people in a single night.
Flanked by Mayor Gregor Robertson and other emergency officials at a Friday news conference, Chief Adam Palmer said serious help is needed to deal with a situation, which is claiming lives at an alarming rate.
"Can you imagine nine people dying from any other cause in one day in our city," Palmer said. "We need a longer term strategy to help people in crisis."
159 dead so far this year
So far this year, illicit drug overdoses have claimed the lives of 159 people in Vancouver. Fentanyl has been found to be a factor in the majority of those deaths.
Even thought toxicology tests have not been completed on the nine people who died last night, fentanyl is suspected in their deaths. Palmer said health workers are having to send people as far away as Armstrong and Nanaimo because of a lack of available beds in the Lower Mainland.
A grim-faced Robertson echoed Palmer's plea. He said waiting eight to nine days for treatment is unacceptable in a city where an estimated 1,300 people are taking illicit opioids every day. "Thirteen-hundred people on any given day are playing Russian roulette with fentanyl," the mayor said.
There has always been a shortage of treatment beds in Vancouver. Treatment for anything, drugs, alcohol, mental illness. The government is afraid to fund treatment beds because:
1. Then the government will have to admit there's a problem;
2. It's very expensive and difficult to maintain year after year with rising costs; There can never be enough beds to fill the need...so why fund one part of the Province and receive nothing but complaints from other parts of such a wide geographic area?
3. The problem is not only treatment beds...it's finding out who is peddling death and getting rid of the culprits. I have a sneaking suspicion the trail will lead right to the top...like Gary Webb found out...leading to his untimely demise.
Honestly, I tend to agree with Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines when he treats drug dealers like rats ripe for extermination. The mainstream media doesn't mention that it's fentanyl that's also plaguing the Philippines...but I'll bet it is. Drug dealers are like two-legged rodents. They need to be trapped and exterminated. A bounty should be put on their heads.
My hunch is that the fentanyl crisis is inextricably connected with the housing crisis in Vancouver...Chinese have been by far the largest purchasers of the wildly overpriced real estate during the past decade. Over-migration of Chinese to the Vancouver lower mainland has caused cultural instability. The Asians who purchased the property now have to pay high property taxes (including a new extra tax if they leave the home empty) and maintenance costs. Where are they getting the money? It's an urban legend in Vancouver that at least 25% of the houses "up the hill" (big empty mansions in high priced neighbourhoods) were purchased with drug profits or are connected to the huge underreported money-laundering operations going on between Asia and Canada.
It would take a huge and expensive police investigation several years at least to get to the bottom of the fentanyl crisis in BC. Makes you kind of regret the hundreds of millions of dollars the Canadian government spent on the Nuttall/Korody case over the past four or so years. That was the case where CSIS and the RCMP lured, entrapped, surveilled and mentored a couple of Vancouver's most vulnerable ex-drug addicts into a "sting operation" to enhance the reputation of the Canadian "security services". The couple was charged with "terrorism" but the judge dismissed the conviction, saying that the couple had been "set up" by the police who, themselves, broke Canadian laws.
These notoriously expensive and manpower wasting cases come to mind at a time like this...when the officials and police are standing around wringing their hands.