Alberta closing treatment centre for homeless men

This probably doesn’t count toward the 4,000 treatment spaces the UCP announced last summer.

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:

  1. Current staffing pressures
  2. Budget management strategies
  3. 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.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

5 replies on “Alberta closing treatment centre for homeless men”

This certainly will leave more out on their own who are needing this. Kim, I have a question as to what this statement is referring too please “ The pause was self-inflicted. “ thank you Mary Lou

A few paragraphs up:

“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:”

In March 2020, the UCP cut funding for 10 treatment beds for teens when it didn’t renew the Enviros Base Camp program’s contract. The UCP said they would announce new funding for teen treatment beds but it’s been seven months and nothing. Thanks Kenney and Luan. Our kids are dying.

Is this facility, with its brand new construction, going to be bought for pennies on the dollar by the Nixon family and The Mustard Seed, or handed over to them free of charge?

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