Albertans now have access to more than 8,000 addiction treatment spaces, the provincial government announced Saturday.
In 2019, Alberta’s government committed to funding 4,000 annual treatment spaces, said Premier Jason Kenney.
“Not only have we achieved our goal, we have more than doubled our commitment by funding over 8,000 annual treatment spaces,” Kenney said Saturday.
“This means 8,000 Albertans will now have the opportunity to seek treatment and enter recovery every year without having to pay privately for life-saving services. Treatment works and recovery is possible. This is a key promise made, promise kept.”
Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis said the government has “for years” heard the province’s addiction care system is broken.
“When we came into office Albertans were having to decide between selling their car and remortgaging their home to access life-saving treatment and recovery services. This was completely unacceptable,” said Ellis.
“Our government is doing the hard work of building an accessible system for the future. Recovery is possible, and the opportunity to pursue recovery is something every Albertan deserves.”
Publicly funded addiction treatment is free for all Albertans – this was made possible when Alberta’s government eliminated daily user fees for all Albertans accessing publicly funded addiction treatment. Historically, Albertans were charged $40 per day for publicly funded residential treatment, a financial barrier that prevented many people from seeking help.
Lori Sigurdson, NDP critic for Addictions and Mental Health, said four Albertans are dying each day from drug poisoning related deaths and this “daily tragedy” needs immediate action.
“The UCP must meet people where they are at,” said Sigurdson.
“I support the opening of new recovery beds, but Albertans can not use them if they are already dead. 2021 will be the deadliest year on record in Alberta due to overdoses and 2020 was the deadliest year before that.
“The government’s response to this crisis cannot be measured in beds opened or dollars spent, but must be measured by lives saved. By that measure the UCP’s failure is a tragic one.”
Harm reduction services are often the first point for people with addictions to access care, Sigurdson added.