ELLIOT LAKE – Algoma-Manitoulin NDP MPP Michael Mantha welcomes the relocation of the Residential Withdrawal Management program from its current location within Sault Area Hospital to a new site, and is calling on the Ford government to work with community partners to move the project forward.
“This is a step in the right direction for better and broader mental health and addiction services in the Algoma District,” said Mantha. “However, it is imperative that the province works with community partners such as Citizens Helping Addicts and Alcoholics Access Treatment (CHAAT) and Safe Space to move this forward and address the specific needs of the community to respond the opioid epidemic in the region.”
In 10 years, opioid deaths in Algoma are up over 500 per cent to approximately 60 persons in 2020. They have skyrocketed in the last year due to COVID and are far more than in any other district in the province, including Toronto.
Sault Ste. Marie lost its stand-alone withdrawal management centre a year ago, which serviced a large part of the Algoma District. It is an essential element of recovery and wellbeing for individuals, their families and the community. Community advocates such as CHAAT have been calling for a new stand-alone centre, amongst other measures.
Jeff Broadbent, CHAAT
“While it is encouraging to see some resources finally going towards residential treatment in the Sault, one wonders why this announcement took nearly 15 months to be issued. This support should’ve come immediately after the fire and flood. March of 2020 was when this government should have been scrambling to find or develop a new location. We don’t have the luxury of time. Lives are at stake. We lost 60 people to opioid overdose alone last year. Together with deaths from other addictions, and soaring violent and property crime, our community is suffering much worse from addiction than from much worse than COVID. Gun violence on our streets every few days, overburdened emergency room with addiction crises, break and enters and other crimes feeding addiction, people dying leaving children, parents and others in grief. This issue warrants at least as much urgency as COVID and it warranted attention 15 months ago. Too little, too late.”
Merissa Dinner, Safe Space
“We have an ineffective withdrawal management facility, no treatment facility and recovery homes that were shut down due to COVID. Recovery does not come in one shape or size. Help should be there for people when and where they need it. “Safe Space” was created by people in recovery that were tired of seeing people in recovery overdose and die with no options for safe consumption or an overdose prevention site.”
Patty MacDonald, CEO of CMHA Sudbury/Manitoulin
“We echo MPP Michael Mantha in welcoming the positive steps the government is taking to support mental health services in the Northeast. Every day, community health agencies are demonstrating how well we can deliver services to our communities – including CMHA – Sudbury/ Manitoulin with our partners through programming at 200 Larch St. The fight against the opioid crisis is at a critical point, and now more than ever people need the collective support of government and community agencies.”