Sarnia mayor still awaiting provincial response on detox centre

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley speaks with (File Photo by Briana Carnegie)

Sarnia’s mayor is still waiting for a response from the provincial government to discuss the need for a detox centre in Sarnia-Lambton, nearly four months after making the request.

Mike Bradley first emailed Minister of Health Christine Elliott September 24, asking for a meeting with the minister’s office.

He sent a second email to the minister’s office on January 8 for any updates on the matter.

He said they’ve been more than patient waiting for a response.

“Well there’s been no acknowledgement of the request, and the request wasn’t just for the mayor’s office to attend to discuss this vitally needed service in our community, it was for the leader of the First Nation’s, the head of the Sarnia and District Labour Council and the head of the Chamber of Commerce, and we had discussed a community delegation to press the case for what is an urgent need in the community to deal with addictions and opioids.”

Bradley said the need for a free-standing withdrawal management centre in Sarnia-Lambton continues to grow.

“Well, it’s the number one issue that we’re one of the few large communities that does not have a withdrawal management detox centre that is there to help people in the very short term to get them in a position where they can get longer-term treatment. We’ve had some upgrades that have been helpful at Bluewater Health, but for a long time we’ve been asking for a residential treatment facility,” he said. “We know they went through the site selection process and I believe they have a site in mind, so now it’s a question of the funding and moving forward.”

Bradley said it would be financially beneficial for the community to have a detox centre.

“Two years ago I met with the minister of health at the time and it was on track, it was moving forward, and if you look at the ministry’s budget in the scheme of things, this is a very small expenditure which would have a very positive impact on all the other areas that they support with people with addictions being in hospital beds, being incarcerated, things like that,” he said. “It’s been very frustrating. You know, I’m optimistic going into this year that it will be funded, but we need it sooner rather than later.”

In November 2018, Ontario Premier Doug Ford indicated his government would support funding for Sarnia-Lambton’s long-planned withdrawal management facility.

The estimated cost of the 24-bed facility is $8.8 million.