Mayor talks candidly on overdose “crisis” in the Sault


It’s been a week since the controversial documentary, “Steel Town Down” aired nationally on CTV, but the dialogue is just starting.

For many in the Community, the documentary was an eye opener of what is going on in the Sault and in every community across Canada. Is there a solution to the problem?  Mayor Christian Provenzano sat down with SaultOnline’s Riley Smith to discuss the issue, the filming of the documentary, why council hasn’t declared an overdose crisis for the Sault plus the next steps that need to be taken for the Community as a whole to combat the problem.


  1. Desiree Beck works for Group Health. In the W5 piece, Desiree seemed to have awareness of local data and statistics regarding the opioid crisis. In this saultonline interview, Mayor Provenzano explains how community partners work together in the field of addiction and mental health. Agencies like Group Health, Algoma Public Health, SAH, CMHA and others are all members of that community partnership. As community partners, those agencies should be sharing data regularly. Mayor Provenzano states he was unaware of the remarkably high numbers of overdoses in our community because those figures were not previously presented to him. He goes on to say that council gets their information from Algoma Public Health who is the city’s lead agency in that regard. If Group Health staff was aware of those figures then how, in a small city like Sault Ste. Marie, is it possible that one agency knew more or had different figures than another agency working together on the same health crisis? Where is the disconnect? If front line workers like Desiree and Steve Olsen from EMS and their counterparts at SAH and elsewhere believe there is a crisis, why is APH reluctant to agree?

    I also wonder about whether declaring a health crisis is truly simply an awareness-raising gesture, or if it actually carries weight when trying to get access to provincial and federal funding and resources in support of addiction and mental health.

    And finally, like the Mayor and many others, I am also curious to know where figure of an average of 5 overdoses daily came from: the producers of the Vice/W5 documentary, or a local source.

  2. Great interview and Mr. Provenzano right to the point, with all the facts on hand we can make informed decisions. We may have 50 overdose a day, but once the people that is landing in town every day from many other places, as far away as BC, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Bay, Sudbury… as I said, as soon as those people go back to their permanent places, our city will, without a doubt, go back to normal. One question that I’ve is, whhy people in disadvantage choose our City? Who is behind the fact that all the sudden we became the Methadone Capital of the North and other cities near by, like Sudbury, North Bay, Wawa, Timmins, Thunder Bay seem to have lost all that segment of the population that have chosen drug dependency… There’s someone interested in having the people here in this town where aren’t jobs no more, the Mayor is a “do-nothing” person, the hospital is a disaster…. something does not add up!

  3. Very good interview by the Mayor. Just maybe, Kevin Newman and his staff at W5 could learn a few things, as it pertains to doing a fair, impartial and thus, factually educational documentary. Then, just maybe, Newman et al will do more substantive journalism & less sensationalizing work on their next project. Just a thought…..

    • Fair, impartial and factual are things that should be applied to all conversations, plans, reports, etc. Good point Frank. Words to live by for sure. Transparency and doing the right thing are also good things to profess for any of you who are listening.

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