Alberta government to spend $25 million to build recovery communities

Last week, Jason Luan announced that Alberta will be spending $25 million to build recovery communities for those experiencing addiction.

Last week, Jason Luan, who serves as Alberta’s associate minister of mental health and addictions, announced that the province will be spending $25 million to build recovery communities in the province.

Recovery communities generally focus on holistic lifestyle changes, rather than, say, abstinence only. Participants move through the treatment process at their pace with the help of clinical and peer interventions.

The announcement was sparse on details, but did mention that the $25 million would be spent on building 5 communities and that once finished, there would be 400 additional treatment beds in Alberta.

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Over the weekend, Jason Kenney was in Red Deer to announce that the first recovery community would be built in that city. Once complete, it will offer 75 treatment beds and will have cost the government up to $5 million. I assume that means the other 4 communities will also cost around $5 million to build.

Beyond that announcement, very few other details have been made available, other than they should open for clients next spring.

No mention was made regarding whether this would be publicly or privately run. Some recovery communities already exist in Alberta.

For example, Hope Mission runs their Breakout Recovery Program, a 12-step year-long recovery programme for men, as well as their Wellspring Recovery Program, a 1-year recovery programme for women. These are faith-based programmes located in Edmonton.

Narrow Road Home, out of High River, is another faith-based recovery community. It is specifically for women, and while participants don’t have to be dealing with addictions, they do need to have detoxed before admission.

But without any details, It’s impossible to know how much the 5 new communities will look like these existing programmes—or like others.

Also, while this isn’t the first announcement made by the UCP government regarding treatment funding, other options, such as supervised consumption sites, are still up in the air. Well, except for Lethbridge’s: it’s been defunded.

On that note, Kenney had this to say about supervised consumption sites during his announcement:

“Now, some in the past have had a single-minded focus on only one approach. That involved, in part, setting up drug consumption sites, consumption sites that have had a very negative impact on local neighbourhoods, on livelihoods, on jobs, on businesses, on crime rates. That is why our government has kept an election commitment to appoint an expert panel to assess the social and economic data, the impact of drug consumption sites. This was a panel made up of addiction experts, people in recovery from addiction, people who’ve lost family members to addiction, academics, scholars, medical experts, and law enforcement, and businesses, as well. And they came back and underscored that there is real data demonstrating that many of the drug consumption sites around Alberta ended up creating significant negative damage on local neighbouring communities on the economy with an increase in crime and, in some places, an increase in death in the approximate areas. . . . Our government is determined to provide a real, life-giving alternative.”

That doesn’t sound very promising for the remaining supervised consumptions sites in the province.

On another note, the media release claimed that “about 400 people will be employed during the construction of the 5 recovery communities.” I find it interesting that they didn’t say that it’ll create 400 jobs, as they have in the past.

Maybe someone in the government actually reads my news stories. after all.

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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 government to spend $25 million to build recovery communities”

Does this mean they will build buildings and not staff them? Or build buildings and give them to private companies to run? Will the companies make non-competitive non-bids in sole source contracts? So many questions. So many patronage deals. So many patrons to patronize.

My understanding is that this is just capital funding, not operational funding. It’s possible that they’ll announce operational funding at a later date.

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