Carolyn Bennett, the physician named last week to a new federal cabinet portfolio in charge of addictions and mental health, is being invited to Sault Ste. Marie to see for herself the state of our opioid crisis."I would appreciate it if you would spend a day in Sault Ste. Marie with me," Mayor Christian Provenzano says in a congratulatory letter to Bennett.
"I will organize a roundtable so that you can hear from front-line social service and health care providers and give you a tour of the infrastructure we have and are developing," the mayor adds.
The letter is on the agenda for Monday's meeting of City Council, which will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4.30 p.m.
Here's the full text:
November 5, 2021
Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health House of Commons
Dear Minister Bennett:
Congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Mental Health and Addiction and Associate Minister of Health.
I am encouraged that this cabinet position now exists and that someone with your qualification and experience holds it.
There is no single challenge affecting our community more than the current mental health and addiction crisis.
The opioid epidemic is becoming more acute every year and more lives are being lost to drug poisonings and overdoses.
A recent report on behalf of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario and Public Health Ontario (Ontario 2021) demonstrates the severity of the crisis across Ontario, with the most dramatic increase in deaths in Northern Ontario.
We need to do more to ensure people have the support and care they need and we need to do so quickly.
Additionally, our communities are seeing an increase in both violent and non-violent crime, much of which I understand relates to the drug trade and substance use.
We are working with our local police service along with our social and health care services to address all of these issues as best as we can but they simply exceed our capacity, and the capacity of the health care system as it is currently designed.
We need support from both the provincial and federal governments to respond effectively to the opioid epidemic specifically, and a rise in addiction and health challenges generally.
Your new portfolío, your professional expertise and your political experience gives me hope that we can make some progress and I write to you in that spirit.
I would appreciate it if you would spend a day in Sault Ste. Marie with me.
I will organize a roundtable so that you can hear from front-line social service and health care providers and give you a tour of the infrastructure we have and are developing.
I will ensure all of the time you spend here is meaningful and informative.
Recognizing the demands on your time and out of respect for your schedule, I will accommodate any day that you can make available.
I appreciate your consideration of this request and look foreard to your response independent of whether the request can be accommodated.
Christian C. Provenzano, B.A., LL.B., LL.M
CC. Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament; Sault Ste. Marie City Council; lla Watson, CEO Sault Area Hospital; Mike Nadeau, CAO DSSAB