Why We Partnered With CTV to Make a Documentary About the Opioid Crisis

VICE Canada’s Head of Content explains why we teamed up with CTV’s W5 for our new documentary, ‘Steel Town Down: Overdose Crisis in the Soo.’
Steel Town Down: Overdose Crisis in the Soo | Screencap courtesy of VICE/CTV

Here at VICE Canada, we gravitate toward subjects we believe require a new angle, a more human perspective, a younger voice analyzing it, or an immersive exploration.

With the opioid crisis simmering to an arguable state of emergency, and with its path of devastation affecting our own editorial team, we have dedicated as many resources as we can to covering this immense health issue. Our first documentary on the issue, Dopesick, has now been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube.


But we know that we need to extend our reach even further in order to continue informing Canadians, and people the world over, with the realities of the opioid crisis. Which is why when we were given the opportunity to collaborate with CTV and W5, the nation’s most watched current affairs and documentary TV series, we wanted to expand our work on the opioid crisis with them.

What came out of it is a stirring and powerful film about the impact of the opioid crisis on Sault Ste. Marie, a small city of 75,000 people in northern Ontario. It tells a different type of story than we’re used to seeing—one outside of the major urban centres of Canada such as Toronto and Vancouver. And it paints a portrait of a place where once-lucrative industrial jobs have been disappearing for decades, and the only crisis worker is shouldering the havoc that opioid overdoses are wreaking through her city.

We hope the film resonates with you, as the process of producing it has resonated with us. And we’re humbled to release it to such a wide audience this Saturday evening.

Vice Canada’s latest documentary on the opioid crisis, STEEL TOWN DOWN: OVERDOSE CRISIS IN THE SOO, airs this Saturday at 7PM ET on CTV, Twitter, and will be online on VICE.com.