Community reaction on the Soo opioid crisis documentary
Published Monday, February 12, 2018 5:35PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 13, 2018 6:32PM EST
A one-hour special, filmed in Sault Ste. Marie, has been the focus of a lot of talk since it aired on CTV’s W5 on Saturday.
The program featured revealing interviews with addiction counsellors, paramedics, harm reduction workers and local residents struggling with addictions. It also looked at why the Soo is vulnerable to a growing addiction epidemic.
Reaction to the segment has struck a nerve with a lot of people, especially with the mayor.
“Steel Town Down” was filmed in Sault Ste. Marie last November, and the documentary didn't paint the Sault in a flattering way, showcasing drug users, those battling with opioid addiction, and even overdoses.
Some residents offered their reaction to the documentary to CTV:
"I thought it was very sad, but I had heard of it and about the situation in the Sault, and I think we should be doing a lot more." said one woman.
"I understand the point of the documentary is to really drive home what's going on here, in the town. It was a bit of negative spin, but it's not the Sault as a whole, but it is in the Sault." said a man.
"I was shocked and I was surprised the kids don't have a lot here to do. Very surprised the mayor had no idea what was going on." said another woman.
During the documentary, you see an exchange between the Sault Ste. Marie Mayor, Christian Provenzano, and someone off-camera during an interview. The person off-camera throws out a statistic, saying forty to fifty people have overdosed in a month’s time, and the mayor tries to clarify the stat, stating that it was the first time he had heard it.
"That clip that you saw was forty seconds, of a much larger discussion and interview, and there was one stat that I wasn't familiar with. That's not to say we weren't aware as a city on what is happening and working on trying to address it." said Provenzano in response to the scene in the documentary.
The mayor says the city is trying to solve the problem, but that help is needed.
"Sault Area Hospital is working on the issue. Service providers are working on the issue, but we need funding. We need funding and we need support. We need provincial support.” said Provenzano.
The Ken Brown Recovery Home has 14 beds for men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Manager Wince Lyons wishes the documentary would have shown what help people in the city do have access to.
"That's what this documentary seemed to lack, it didn't have too much on treatment. It didn't say ‘this is how we are going to treat it’; it didn't say ‘these are the solutions we are looking for.’ That's where it came up light, I think." said Lyons.
One thing everyone agreed on, was this documentary showed a side of the community that not everyone likes to talk about and that Sault Ste. Marie does have a drug problem, but people say they hope this documentary gets the ball rolling on tackling the issue.
(You can also watch the extended interview with Mayor Christian Provenzano above.)