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In this June 27, 2016 photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a member of the RCMP opens a printer ink bottle containing the opioid carfentanil imported from China, in Vancouver.

RCMP/AP

The City of Vancouver says its first responders are attending to an increasing number of calls linked to deaths or overdoses caused by illicit drugs.

City officials say five overdose deaths were recorded in Vancouver during the week of June 12, up from four the week earlier.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service reports an 18 per cent increase in overdose calls over the same period.

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A news release from the city says a local medical lab has also identified a spike in the number of urine samples testing positive for carfentanil, an opioid considered to be 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.

Twenty-one per cent of samples tested by the lab showed signs of carfentanil, up from six to eight per cent of samples tested in February and March.

The city says the increase presents "an extreme risk" to the public.

At the end of May, the B.C. Coroner's Service reported 488 overdose deaths across B.C. so far this year, with 144 in Vancouver, followed by 51 in Surrey and 37 in Victoria.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says the B.C. government has failed to stem the fentanyl crisis, 14 months after a public health emergency was declared in the province.

"Four British Columbians die every day from overdoses, yet the crisis barely warranted a mention in (Thursday's) throne speech," Robertson says in the release.

He says the province needs leaders with the courage to "dramatically improve prevention, education and addictions treatment."

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Vancouver officials estimate the city is on pace for more than 430 overdose deaths by the end of the year.

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