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Ontario puts $2.5 million toward Sudbury recovery services


A major announcement for Sudbury on Friday morning as the city continues to deal with its mental health and addictions crisis.

Michael Tibollo, the Ontario government's associate minister of mental health and addictions was met with applause as he announced $2.5 million for Sudbury's Monarch Recovery Services.

"I've heard stories from all over Ontario, but especially here in the north, about the struggles with addictions and mental health; including so many of them right here in Sudbury. And for almost two years, families across Ontario faced many challenges," Tibollo told the crowd.

According to figures cited by the province, opioid-related deaths surged by 79 per cent in the first two waves of the pandemic and the figures were three times higher in the northern region.

Sudbury has had the highest per capita death rate in the province due to opioid overdoses for some time.

Tibollo said the money will go to create 15 new beds, six of them in withdrawal management, four in addictions treatment and five in supportive treatment.

"There's been a growing need for high-quality addictions care across the province, particularly in rural, northern and Indigenous communities and those messages have been heard by your provincial government," said Tibollo.

Monarch will use the funds as it looks to relocate to the old St. David's school in Sudbury's Donovan neighbourhood. The move will allow them to expand and, hopefully, increase its capacity.

Sudbury's numbers in terms of addiction have been high for some time.

Tibollo said the provincial government walked into a deficit in terms of a continuum of care when it took power from the Liberals in 2018 and it's taken some time to lay the foundation in hopes of ensuring they get this right.

"You're going to see now with the foundations that we're laying, we're going to be able to measure the outcome. We're going to be able to provide the supports and services necessary for individuals and we're going to be measuring, as we measure the outcomes, if it's the same people coming for withdrawal management or if we were successful getting them the treatment," he said.

Monarch CEO Roxane Zuck said COVID-19 put a halt to a lot of the service's plans.

"We were wanting to move forward with this five years ago and it's just been one thing after another holding us back and we're thrilled it's going to be happening soon," Roxane said.

The announcement was also music to the ears of Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger, who had been calling on other levels of government to take action for some time.

"We're doing our best to implement solutions but the urgent need to offer mental health and addiction supports is more important now than ever before," said Bigger.

There was little mention though of the city's supervised consumption site that was supposed to help with some of the addiction numbers.

Tibollo said he had hoped there would be something official he could have announced during his Sudbury visit.

"I know that Mayor Bigger has been a big advocate to get this done as soon as possible. He's lit a fire under me and I've lit a fire under the powers that be in Queen's Park. We expect this to be done soon," said Tibollo who added there were procedures and timelines that still had to be followed.

"Construction, I'm told, is just another two or three weeks. Once construction is complete, the federal government will do a tour and at that point in time, we expect they'll provide an exemption for the consumption of these drugs at this facility with supervision, of course," said Bigger.

The mayor said crews are still on schedule to be ready for the end of March at the supervised consumption site they chose in downtown Sudbury.

In the meantime, there's no timeline yet in terms of when Monarch will be able to move into its new digs.

Zuck said crews are still doing some demolition and renovation work.

"Our withdrawal management beds are multi-functional beds or flex beds, and we're going to be using them to make sure those coming into treatment are healthy and stabilized so they get the best experience possible out of the whole treatment program itself," she said.

The money is part of a larger $90 million addiction recovery fund that's being put forth by the province.

Other investments being made include youth wellness hubs and mobile mental health clinics.

The fund will support roughly 400 new addictions treatment beds across the province. Top Stories

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