Belleville needs business case for new health hub during opioid crisis, province says

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford's government says it needs to see a business plan before funding a proposed health and social services hub in an eastern Ontario city beleaguered by opioids.

Progressive Conservative lawmaker Todd Smith, who is the MPP for the region, says he has made it clear to the mayor of Belleville, Ont., that they need a costing and business plan before moving forward.

Belleville declared a state of emergency earlier this month after first responders were called out to to 17 drug overdoses in 24 hours.

Mayor Neil Ellis said yesterday the province did not commit to the $2 million funding request to help kick-start construction of a centralized hub that would offer addictions and mental-health services and money to open a detox centre.

Ellis says the city will go it alone if the province won't step up.

The province has provided one-time stabilization funding to increase the number of first responders in downtown Belleville and to increase staffing at local outreach services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press