02/18/2016 16:22 EST | Updated 02/18/2017 00:12 EST

Vancouver health authority considers expanding supervised injection services

Vancouver Coastal Health hopes to expand supervised-injection services as the city faces a growing crisis of overdoses from the dangerous opioid fentanyl.

A medical health officer with the agency says it is looking at seeking federal approval to provide the services in community health centres that already help people with addictions.

Dr. Mark Lysyshyn says he's encouraged by Health Canada's recent approval of the Dr. Peter Centre, an HIV-AIDS clinic that has offered supervised injection in the Vancouver's West End since 2002.

He says overdose deaths are on the rise and that a growing portion of the fatalities are linked to fentanyl, a potent synthetic that is often cut with other drugs.

Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall says offering supervised injection in health centres would be more cost-effective than building another stand-alone facility such as Insite in the Downtown Eastside.

He says he'd like to see the federal Liberals repeal legislation introduced by the former Conservative government that made it extremely difficult to open new supervised-injection sites.

The Canadian Press