Public health officials are taking steps to reduce the number of overdose deaths in British Columbia.

The provincial health officer declared a public health emergency in BC yesterday.

North Island Medical Health Officer, Doctor Charmaine Enns, says there has been a significant increase in overdose deaths on the island.

Enns says that historically, the average is one overdose death a week on Vancouver Island. Since the start of the New Year, Enns says there’s been over 40 deaths caused by an overdose.

Enns says by collecting additional information medical health officers will be able to better understand the scope of the issue and develop interventions to help to stop the overdoses.