04/13/2017 13:31 EDT | Updated 04/13/2017 14:21 EDT

Mayors want national standard on overdose death data, more action to addiction

VANCOUVER — Mayors from 13 cities across Canada are calling for a national standard on the collection and sharing of data on overdose deaths.

The Mayors' Task Force has released its initial recommendations to the federal government as British Columbia marks a year since declaring a public-health emergency over soaring overdose fatalities.

The task force says only Vancouver and Surrey, B.C., receive monthly overdose data from local health authorities, while just six of the 13 cities have access to the most recent information, from last year.

The painkiller fentanyl has been found to be the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in a third of the cities represented by the task force.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who chairs the task force, says the glaring gaps in data are masking the seriousness of the crisis.

He says cities need to be involved in developing a better response to addiction and overdoses.