Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan, right, was in Red Deer in August to tour the supervised drug consumption site. He also met with Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan and Red Deer-North MLA Adriana LaGrange. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer loses out on funding for addiction clinic

$8 million divided among eight communities

Red Deer was out of luck when new funding for opioid dependency clinics was announced Friday.

Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan announced that $8 million would be distributed to 10 existing clinics in Edmonton, Calgary, Sherwood Park, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, High Prairie, Bonnyville and Cardston over the next four years.

Alberta Health Services does not have an opioid dependency clinic in Red Deer, which would provide people with access to addiction therapists and counsellors, as well as prescribed medical treatment like methadone.

But AHS says some of the funding will go to Alberta’s virtual dependency program delivered via video conferencing, which is accessible to people in Red Deer and central Alberta.

Sarah Fleck, clinical manager at the harm reduction agency Turning Point, said the virtual program has systematic barriers that a clinic does not.

“The fact that we, for a long time, had the highest fentanyl death rate in the province, and still no immediate Alberta Health Services program for people to access opioid replacement therapy, is frustrating and really a disservice to the people living with substance use disorder,” Fleck said.

She said big gaps in service continue to exist in central Alberta.

“This announcement is definitely a step in the right direction and positive for the province of Alberta, and for people living in some of the major centres where these programs exist.

“I just think it’s imperative that at some point, Red Deer be prioritized as another city in the province that also requires the same access to opioid dependency treatment and psychosocial services attached to that.”

Related:

75% of people who die of opioid overdose have a permanent address

Virtual Opioid Dependency Program spreads across Alberta

Fleck said Red Deer has two private clinics, including the Central Alberta Methadone Clinic, but people would really benefit from a publicly funded facility. Some local clients have chosen to relocate to Edmonton or Calgary to access AHS clinics.

Dr. Robert Tanguay, medical lead with addiction education sessions at AHS, said often, recovery cannot be achieved without psychosocial supports that the funding will help to expand at the clinics.

“These high-output methadone clinics simply aren’t working,” said Tanguay at the funding announcement held in Calgary.

“At the end of the day, just simply using a prescription pad to prescribe methadone, or buprenorphine, is not going to be the answer to the addiction crisis. It has to be relationships.”

AHS says it will work with the 10 clinics, including the virtual program, on the allocation and implementation of the funding in coming months.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Alberta Health Services Central Zone

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Medical examiner: Floyd’s heart stopped while restrained

Medical examiner: Floyd’s heart stopped while restrained

Police are seeking missing Red Deer man

Dillon Bristow was last seen in the city on Saturday

Police arrest Red Deer man for luring children

The three young victims and their families are receiving support

More provinces moving to further loosen COVID-19 restrictions

More provinces moving to further loosen COVID-19 restrictions

Solidarity together: Central Albertans protest in Red Deer against racism

There’s no such thing as a little bit of racism. Even one… Continue reading

‘Makes no sense:’ Woman can’t fathom why husband, uncle slain on hunting trip

‘Makes no sense:’ Woman can’t fathom why husband, uncle slain on hunting trip

Climate change behind increases in extreme rain danger: scientists

Climate change behind increases in extreme rain danger: scientists

Alberta introduces bill to create own parole board like Quebec, Ontario

Alberta introduces bill to create own parole board like Quebec, Ontario

Woman sentenced in toddler’s death says sorry to ‘every single person’ she hurt

Woman sentenced in toddler’s death says sorry to ‘every single person’ she hurt

‘Hate just hides’: Biden vows to take on systematic racism

‘Hate just hides’: Biden vows to take on systematic racism

On the spot where George Floyd died, his brother urges calm

On the spot where George Floyd died, his brother urges calm

Trump threatens military force against protesters nationwide

Trump threatens military force against protesters nationwide

Raptors guard VanVleet says people ‘fed up’ with racism and discrimination

Raptors guard VanVleet says people ‘fed up’ with racism and discrimination

Most Read