Toward an Alberta model of wellness

Press Release

Mar 15, 2022

Alberta’s government is helping everyday Albertans by making record breaking investments in addiction and mental health care.

Budget 2022 includes about $1 billion annually for addiction and mental health care and additional funding of $60 million over three years to build a recovery-oriented system of care. This new funding complements the significant investment of $140 million over four years made by Alberta’s government in 2019 to increase access to a comprehensive recovery-oriented system of care.

“Alberta’s government is supporting Albertans in their pursuit of recovery from addiction and mental health challenges. We’ve heard loud and clear that recovery is possible for everyone. Our goal is that every Albertan should have the opportunity to pursue long-term recovery without barriers, and that communities should support that pursuit.”

Mike Ellis, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

“Every Albertan deserves access to the care that will facilitate his or her recovery. I’m proud to have been a part of the Mental Health and Addiction Advisory Council and our Toward and Alberta Model of Wellness report has validated the need to ensure women in Alberta have access to the services they need.”

Whitney Issik, Associate Minister of Status of Women, MLA Calgary-Glenmore

The Alberta model of recovery-oriented care is based on the belief that everyone has the right to be supported and face as few barriers as possible in their pursuit of recovery. Alberta’s government is focused on increasing access to a range of prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services. The system involves a coordinated network of government and non-profit partners who are all working in the same direction to improve outcomes for Albertans.

Recovery from addiction and mental health is viewed as a journey that results in improved health and a better overall quality of life through enhanced relationships, employment, cultural and spiritual balance, community and social participation, and more.

Budget 2022 also prioritizes increasing access to addiction and mental health supports for children and youth, seniors and people with complex needs, as well as making it easier for Albertans who come into contact with the judicial system to access recovery-oriented support. Alberta’s government will also continue to address the increased need for mental health and wellness supports as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the rising number of opioid-related overdose fatalities.

“The government’s commitment to an Alberta model of addiction and mental health care is welcome. Building a more effective recovery-oriented system will result in better outcomes. I look forward to seeing the positive difference the new investments under Budget 2022 will make in the lives of Albertans.”

Laureen MacNeil, co-chair, Mental Health and Addiction Advisory Council

“I’m pleased the see the progress Alberta’s government has already made to address the Council’s recommendations. By recognizing there are many ways to pursue recovery and working to strengthen the entire continuum of care, the government is giving hope for recovery to people experiencing addiction and mental health challenges.”

Pat Nixon, co-chair, Mental Health and Addiction Advisory Council

Alberta’s government has been, and will continue to be, guided by the recommendations of the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council. Toward an Alberta Model of Wellness has provided Alberta’s government with a framework for transformative change to build a recovery-oriented system of care.

The council made three main recommendations to support the transformation to a recovery-oriented system of care:

  • Establish a shared vision and collective commitment to recovery
  • Improve foundational supports by enabling policy, consistent processes, service integration and information technology
  • Strengthen recovery-oriented systems of care by building capacity in communities and filling gaps in community supports

Work is already underway to build a recovery-oriented system of care and increase access to services. Actions to date include:

  • Established the Alberta Recovery Council, a cross-government committee with a mandate to support the implementation of a recovery-oriented system of care across all relevant ministries
  • Established 8,000 new publicly funded addiction treatment spaces and eliminated daily user fees so residential treatment is free
  • Introduced recovery communities, also known as therapeutic communities, to Alberta to provide holistic treatment to individuals experiencing addiction. Communities have been announced in Gunn, Red Deer, Lethbridge and on the Blood Tribe First Nation.
  • Supported the expansion of youth mental health hubs, which provide young Albertans with a one-stop shop for services that improve their mental health and overall wellness
  • Implemented licensing and quality standards for supervised consumption services to help ensure clients are better connected to the health-care system, to improve the quality of services that are being offered to people with addiction, and to improve community safety
  • Supported services to reduce harm, such as the development of the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app, the introduction of a nasal naloxone pilot, expansion of opioid agonist therapy and fully covering the cost of the injectable opioid treatment drug Sublocade.
  • Continued work with police services and fire services to improve Albertans’ connection to recovery supports, including the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program, and provide first responders with the support the need to help respond to Albertans experiencing addiction and mental health challenges. This includes the implementation of the digital mental health tool HealthIM.

Quick facts

  • One in five Albertans will experience an addiction and mental health issue in their lifetime.
  • Budget 2022 invests in addiction and mental health recovery. This includes:
    • $70 million to support a recovery-oriented system of care.
      • $50 million from the 2019 commitment of $140 million over four years.
      • $20 million in new funding allocated in Budget 2022.
  • Including Alberta Health Services, the government spends about $1 billion on mental health and addictions programs, services and supports.
  • In 2020, Alberta’s government committed more than $53 million to enhance online, phone and in-person mental health and addiction recovery supports during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Albertans experiencing addiction and mental health challenges can contact 211 Alberta, the Addiction Helpline  or the Mental Health Helpline for support, information and referrals.

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