Sault Ste. Marie news: Addiction treatment advocates demand answers

An addiction advocacy group in Sault Ste. Marie wants to know when a promised residential withdrawal management facility will open in the city.

Save Our Young Adults — or SOYA — is demanding transparency in the process, saying they haven’t heard any updates on the project since it was announced last May.

The group held a rally Thursday afternoon at the proposed withdrawal management site on Old Garden River Road. SOYA founder Connie Raynor-Elliott said her group has heard nothing from the Sault Ste Marie MPP Ross Romano.

“We shouldn’t have to do events like this, standing out in the cold and the rain to get people’s attention,” said Raynor-Elliott.

“And it’s not the community, it’s mostly, as far as I’m concerned, it’s mostly our provincial government. Where’s our voice? He was voted, he’s our voice, he should be here.”

Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano said the province has not acted on the city’s mental health and addiction issue.

“I really don’t think the province has served this community well at all,” said Provenzano.

“In 2017, there was a proposal from Sault Area Hospital for over $5 million of additional operating funds and $11 million in capital funds. And five years later, we’ve received a fraction of that, and that money isn’t even actioned yet.”

In response, Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano said the mayor hasn’t been in contact with him on this file.

“The mayor has never once called me or spoken to me about this matter in five years and has only ever advocated through Twitter,” said Romano, responding to a tweet from Provenzano directed at him and Premier Doug Ford.

“I would encourage him again to pick up the phone and call me and I would be happy to explain every single step of the process that we have worked through and why it is so important that we not politicize this matter.”

As for an update on the project, Romano said that’s coming soon. He said he’s been actively working with the Ministry of Health and Sault Area Hospital on getting the facility up and running.

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