Soo politicians react to opioid crisis documentary
CTV Northern Ontario
Published Monday, February 12, 2018 2:11PM EST
People in Sault Ste. Marie are buzzing about a documentary that aired Saturday on CTV's W5 television series.
The one-hour special called “Steel Town Down: Opioid Crisis in the Soo” was produced by Vice Canada and it showed the growing number of people overdosing on powerful painkillers and dying.
Shawney Cohen has filmed several documentaries about drug abuse and culture for Vice Canada, but he says this one may have been the hardest.
"This is the one place that felt a little hopeless. There's a disconnect between generations and with so many economic needs, drug addiction has almost no profile. There's only one harm reduction officer for the whole city and five overdoses every day," he said.
"Places the size of the Soo will never have sufficient resources. Provinces and the national government need to get more involved as they did with the AIDS crisis. These drugs are killing more people than AIDS did." said Cohen.
The segment struck a nerve with a lot of people, especially the politicians in the community.
Mayor Christian Provenzano offered his perspective in a statement issued last night, which was shared through social media. He put the statement out after receiving concerned Facebook messages, emails and phone calls.
"Some have been concerned with how the documentary portrayed our community, some with what the city is/is not doing to address the issues raised in the documentary and some with what I did/did not know about opioid abuse in our community." said Provenzano.
The mayor went on to acknowledge that many people in the community struggle with substance abuse and that the city is making an effort, using limited resources, but that more needs to be done.
“Sault Area Hospital (SAH) has applied to the North East Local Health Integrated Network and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care for funding to improve our community’s infrastructure and the services that are offered here. I have supported these efforts. SAH will be at our next Council meeting outlining the project for Council (and the community) and we will commit to help SAH get the funding it needs. It is important to note that this work was going on before, and independent of, the documentary.” said Provenzano in his statement.
Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano also released a statement.
“The opioid crisis extends across all communities throughout Canada and deserves national attention; however, it is upsetting that it came at the expense of the place we proudly call home." said Romano.