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Multi-sector community plan to focus on poverty, mental health and addictions

Sault Ste. Marie's Community Safety and Well-Being plan will seek approval from City Council Monday
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Stakeholders behind a multi-sector, provincially mandated plan to address immediate and long-term social risks in Sault Ste. Marie will look to City Council to approve the adoption of the strategic plan during Monday’s council meeting. 

The Sault Ste. Marie Community Safety and Well-Being Plan 2021-2026, officially endorsed by the Police Services Board Thursday, has identified mental health and addictions and poverty as the two major priority risks to the community that need to be addressed through a collaborative multi-sector and multi-agency approach.   

Effective January 2020, municipalities in Ontario are legislated under the Police Services Act to produce what’s known as a Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) plan. The framework for the CSWB plan handed down by the province focuses on incident response, risk intervention, prevention and social development.

Then-FutureSSM Social Equity Coordinator Lauren Doxtater led the development of the plan, with the support of the Social Equity Committee and the Algoma Leadership Table, which approved the CSWB plan in March. 

The following is a list of intended outcomes for each component of the Sault’s CSWB plan: 

Mental Health and Addictions

  • Continuum of care: Prevention to aftercare service providers are knowledgeable and informed on models of care that are trauma informed and recovery oriented, clients and/or service users receive high quality treatment and emergency department high users are provided access to community based mental health and addictions services
  • Youth services: Youth have appropriate recreational programming available to them, alternative forms of justice are available to youth, parents and youth are educated on resiliency and coping skills, youth in transition between systems are supported and services are available to them.
  • Community-based services: Wraparound services are available to individuals and families from commencement to remission and are supported post treatment, individuals are families and neighborhood vulnerability is reduced from harm, substance dependency treatment is identified and offered in a timely and purposeful way by multiple sectors (i.e. primary care and justice), persons with lived experience are empowered to work with others, services and programs provide a continuum of care based on the needs of the individual.
  • Advocacy and Policy: A wide range of Community and residential withdrawal management and inpatient/outpatient treatment services are available in Sault Ste. Marie, all elementary and secondary schools are adequately staff with mental health professionals and local Institutions and businesses are prepared in harm reduction techniques. 
  • Research: Sectors are aware of drug use data and there is evidence-based information on the viability of a safe consumption site in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Public education and awareness: The public is informed and the community is ready to engage in drug strategy and mental health initiatives and messaging.

Poverty

  • Housing: Low-income people are living in housing that meets all appropriate standards of living, all low-income persons are housed in affordable units and housing is available to at-risk populations.
  • Food security: Low-income earners are food literate, the public is educated with respect to the impact of Food Security in the region, Nutritious food is accessible to low-income people and organizations are distributing nutritious food.
  • Workforce entry: Employment supports for low-income people to enter the work force are accessible, low-income learners complete levels of education that is required to enter the workforce and employers support training and hiring low-income people based on local labour market demand.
  • Crisis diversion and resolution: The unmet needs of community members are addressed and the gaps in service are responded to by community organizations.

The joint responsibility of initiating and regularly reviewing the CSWB plan will be led by Sault Ste. Marie Police Service with the support of the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Chief Hugh Stevenson says the plan is an “excellent holistic approach” that took treatment, long-term drug usage, mental health and poverty all into account. 

“I think what it really shows is the rallying together of all our institutions in Sault Ste. Marie to deal with this issue - so, a very favourable report, good evidence supporting its position and that’s why the board approved it to go to council,” said Stevenson, after the Police Services Board endorsed the plan during its meeting Thursday. “I’m supportive of it, and I really do think that they covered off a variety of social issues that made it incredibly holistic in nature. It wasn’t just taking one particular institution, but it’s looking at the interaction effect of many institutions in our community that will improve public safety over time.”

More detailed information on the CSWB plan can be found in pages 214-247 of the agenda package for Monday’s City Council meeting. 

The meeting can be seen live on SooToday beginning at 4:30 p.m.