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Report on Small Business newsletter: How Canada's opioid crisis is turning business owners into advocates

A man walks past Pidgin Restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, April 29, 2013. With the spread of the ultra-potent opioid fentanyl, the rate and severity of overdoses in the streets and alleys near the business has increased significantly.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

How Canada's opioid crisis is turning business owners into advocates

Over the past year, Vancouver restaurant owner Brandon Grossutti has kept the anti-overdose drug Naloxone close at hand. Having run the chic Asian/French Pidgin Restaurant in the city's Downtown Eastside since 2012, Mr. Grossutti is accustomed to ongoing and open drug use in the neighbourhood. But with the spread of the ultra-potent opioid fentanyl, the rate and severity of overdoses in the streets and alleys near his business has gone up significantly.

"I've Narcaned six people in the last year," said Mr. Grossutti, referring to Narcan, the trade name for Naloxone, which is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. "Luckily, in every case it looked like they survived."

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B.C.'s Lower Mainland remains the epicentre of the Canadian opioid crisis, with nearly 700 people dying of drug overdoses in the region in the first nine months of 2017, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. But the crisis is spreading across the country, creating a new reality for street-front businesses in many cities. Employees, owners and customers are dealing with an increase in overdoses happening on business premises or nearby, as well as increased health hazards such as discarded needles. Full story

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