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NDP leader says ‘lives will be lost’ without consumption site

At a press conference Feb. 1, provincial NDP leader Marit Stiles told media the province needs to fund The Spot,  and ‘they should be doing it now’
Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles speaks at a press conference in Sudbury on Feb. 1.

Provincial NDP leader Marit Stiles told Sudbury media Feb. 1 she is concerned the provincial government is threatening the future of supervised consumption sites. 

“I think lives will be lost,” she said. 

Stiles took to the microphone with Sudbury MPP Jamie West and Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas at a press conference scheduled in the wake of revelations that the Ford government rejected a Francophone university proposal last year, despite a 2022 report that showed the Université de Sudbury had the organizational capacity to offer such programming. 

While at the podium, both Stiles and West spoke of the need for a supervised consumption site in Sudbury, and in Timmins. 

Stiles began by saying, “this government, unfortunately, hasn't stepped up when the people really need it. And we've seen this across the province.”

She told the media that she had visited The Spot, Sudbury’s supervised consumption site, last fall. 

“I saw the work they do and it's really, really important work,” said Stiles. 

She said there is a need for the provincial government to “take this seriously.” 

Jamie West echoed Stiles' concern and spoke once again to his support for the site. 

“Sudbury (The Spot) has technically never been opened by the province because the municipal government has been footing the bill for Doug Ford,” said West, noting that the city can’t afford to fund the site anymore, and “they shouldn’t have to,” he said. 

“The Conservative government seems to download provincial responsibilities and we can no longer, through property taxes, pay the provincial bills.” 

Lacking provincial dollars, The Spot ran on $1.094 million from City of Greater Sudbury coffers, as well as $100,000 from Vale and $30,000 from Wheaton.

That municipal funding ran out on Dec. 31, and since that point, The Spot has been running on donations. First, from Vale Base Metals, who again stepped up and covered the costs throughout January, and now, anonymous community donors will get the site through February. 

After that, however, the future is unclear. 

“The Conservative government seems to download provincial responsibilities and we can no longer, through property taxes, pay the provincial bills.” 

West said the provincial government has “been dragging their feet on this while our citizens continue to die.” 

The provincial government paused all pending and new applications for the sites following a shooting outside of a site in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood last summer, with Minister Michael Tibollo, the associate minister of mental health and addictions, saying in the fall that this review would include the development of new safety protocols

Tibollo told SooToday in early January that the review is expected to be done within the next two months. 

West said that the toxic opioid crisis is hurting Northern Ontario, and Sudbury, worse than other parts of the province, and that means health care is necessary. 

“The Conservative government, for an arbitrary reason, has decided to limit the number of supervised consumption sites,” said West. “And there is nowhere else where you limit the number of health facilities for any other organization: we wouldn't have one hospital or one dentist in Northern Ontario.”

West said that some may only see drug users as “the bottom rung of the ladder” but added that is far from the truth. “These are our citizens,” he said. 

“We are talking about tradespeople, we're talking about mothers and fathers, we’re talking about grandparents, we're talking about young children living with addiction,” said West. “We're talking about people sometimes using recreationally and dying because of a poisoned supply of drugs. The evidence demonstrates that we can help save lives and we have saved lives.” 

He said the arguments against the sites are “straw men arguments.”  

A “straw man” occurs when someone distorts or exaggerates another person’s argument, and then attacks the distorted version of the argument instead of genuinely engaging.

West said that Sudbury can no longer rely on “the generosity of local donors to keep the doors open” as it is unsustainable, but above all, “because it's a provincial responsibility, it's Doug Ford's responsibility.” 

Stiles spoke after West to reiterate his comments, adding that the price of funding the site will be felt elsewhere, if it is not directed to life-saving care.  

“The cost of this will be very high if we don't actually deal with it at the grassroots, with these sites,” said Stiles. “The province needs to come through with the funding and they should be doing it now.” 

She said the “games” the provincial government is playing is resulting in lost lives. 

“The downloading of this on a municipality that's not sustainable,” she said.  “This is provincial, it's a health issue, and it should be treated that way.”

Jenny Lamothe covers vulnerable and marginalized communities for 

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Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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