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Mayor pushes Romano, health minister for action on opioid crisis

Provenzano complains of insufficient resources and slowness of provincial approvals for hospital initiatives
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Mayor Christian Provenzano has written to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, MPP Ross Romano and the chief executive officer of North East Local Health Integration Network, pressing for faster action on the local opioid crisis.

The following is the full text of the mayor's letter, as included in the agenda package for Monday night's meeting of city council.

Provenzano expresses concern that two proposals from Sault Area Hospital are still waiting on provincial approval.

Monday's city council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

December 5, 2018


Honourable Christine Elliott
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Deputy Premier
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor St.
Toronto, ON
M7A 2C4

Ross Romano
Sault Ste. Marie MPP
390 Bay St., Suite 102
Sault Ste Marie, ON
P6A 1X2

Jeremy Stevenson
North East Local Health Integration Network CEO
555 Oak St. East, 3rd Floor
North Bay, ON
P1B 8E3

Dear Minister Elliott, MPP Romano and CEO Stevenson:

​RE: Sault Area Hospital Level III Withdrawal Management proposal, Sault Area Hospital Addiction Medicine Consult Team proposal

I am writing with respect to the two proposals provided by Sault Area Hospital:  the Sault Area Hospital Level III Withdrawal Management proposal, and the Sault Area Hospital Addiction Medicine Consult Team proposal, both of which I understand were submitted in spring/ fall of 2018.

I recently asked that the senior leadership at Sault Area Hospital provide me with an update on these efforts and this letter is a result of that conversation.  

I have copied the acting [chief executive officer] of Sault Area Hospital to keep her apprised of my communication.  

I understand that the Sault Area Hospital Level III Withdrawal Management proposal has the support of the NELHIN [North East Local Health Integration Network] but is at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for operating funding approval and that it has not yet received that approval.

I understand that the Addiction Medicine Consult Team proposal has been very well received and is generally accepted as a worthwhile approach to immediately addressing a very significant need in our community but that proposal has also not yet received approval. 

I realize that the opioid epidemic is a problem across our region and province and that you have a responsibility to ensure that the projects your government funds meet a need and deliver value.  

However, in both of these proposals, you have concrete plans from the leadership in Sault Ste. Marie that are intended to address the mental health and addiction challenges being faced in our community and our region.  

The opioid crisis is of critical concern to the leadership and health care workers in our community, who are all doing the utmost with the resources currently at their disposal.  

Those resources are insufficient and we need your government to make the necessary commitments without any further delay. 

Considering the amount of time the NELHIN and the provincial government have had these proposals, the approval process for the Level III Withdrawal Management proposal should be brought to a favourable conclusion and the Addiction Medicine Consult Team should be funded immediately.

I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss these matters with each of you as soon as your schedules will permit.  

I will make myself available at your convenience. 


Christian C. Provenzano, B.A., LL.B., LL.M​