The UCP government is shutting down a treatment centre for homeless men dealing with addiction and mental health issues.
Instead of letting the public know through the media release section of their website, the announcement came quietly.
In a letter to AUPE representatives, Steve Stringfellow, an executive negotiations strategist with the Provincial Bargaining Coordination Office, announced that they’d be shutting down the McCullough Centre.
The centre, which operates in Gunn, a tiny hamlet about 58 kms northwest of Edmonton, provided a 6-month program for homeless men with addiction or mental health issues, including a private room and such support services as:
- Addictions and recovery counselling
- Physical and mental health supports
- Personal and life skills development
- Training and employment services
- Financial benefits
Last summer, the province paused intake to the facility, despite promises to fund up to 4,000 treatment spaces in Alberta. According to Stringfellow, they paused intake for 3 reasons:
- Current staffing pressures
- Budget management strategies
- The anticipated future closure of the site
All of these are within the control of the UCP government, specifically Rajan Sawhney, the minister of community and social services. It’s the government’s fault that there are staffing pressures, that there are budget issues, and that they’re closing the site.
The pause was self-inflicted.
In total, 63 workers will lose their jobs. Of those, 32 will be outright abolished, while the rest (3 temporary and 28 wage workers) will have their positions terminated early. These positions include medical and nursing workers.
And this after the province just finished spending roughly $5 million on renovating the facility. The NDP government estimated spending $3.4 million on renovations and upgrades during the 2018–2019 fiscal year and had budgeted another $2.5 million in 2019–2020. In the UCP’s first budget, released last November, they allocated instead just over $4.9 million.
It’s unclear if that means there was a total of $4.9 million spent or $8.3 million. Either way, it seems like a lot of money to spend to just shut down the facility.
Once it’s completely shut down in February, it’ll mean up to 75 men (according to staff who responded to a phone call) will have to look for new supportive housing options; although the facility has the capacity to hold over 100 residents.