Anna Junker

April 18, 2022

-Edmonton Journal


The Alberta government will announce a new initiative to turn correctional living units into therapeutic treatment spaces, says Premier Jason Kenney.

Kenney said a large volume of inmates in correctional centres “suffer from substance abuse disorder” and a better job must be done at rehabilitation, both in the facilities and after individuals are released, the premier told the Recovery Capital Conference in Calgary on April 12.

Kenney said Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis will later this year announce “significant investments to transform correctional living units into therapeutic treatment units staffed with therapists alongside correctional officers.

“They’ll provide psychosocial treatment and assist in release planning to treatment facilities in the community with door-to-door transportation.”

Postmedia reached out to the ministry of mental health and addictions for more information on the initiative, but spokesman Eric Engler said no additional details could be shared at this time.

‘Recovery has historically been neglected’: Kenney


Kenney shared the news of the announcement while speaking to the audience about the government’s efforts in expanding recovery treatment in the province. He also slammed previous governments and harm reduction approaches to the drug poisoning crisis.

“Previous governments apparently had no concept that recovery works they drained much of the funding out of the addiction care system, left beds unfunded forced people with addiction to pay for their own health care,” he said. “It made it difficult to pursue recovery because too many have not believed in the possibility of recovery.”

“Recovery has historically been neglected by policymakers and the healthcare system in favour of a new system focused sometimes completely it seems on addiction management, on normalizing dangerous drug use and what I would call pathological altruism.”

Kenney detailed his government’s efforts in expanding the virtual opioid dependency program, providing funding for treatment spaces, eliminating user fees, and building five new long-term therapeutic communities.

“These facilities will add an additional 30 per cent to our total provincial capacity and in time will move us a great distance towards eliminating waitlists,” Kenney said.

The province will also begin implementing the My Recovery Plan system aimed at linking addiction services together and providing a place for tracking and understanding waitlists, capacity and space utilization.

“This is an important initiative as we move Alberta’s system toward an outcomes-based model, a model that is based on the outcome goals, hopes and recovery dreams of individuals and their families,” Kenney said. “Not the goals of bureaucrats, politicians, activists or the media.”

Kenney said the province envisions an accessible, recovery-oriented system of care focused on individual strengths and goals.

“The opioid crisis that has tragically only gotten worse as a direct result of the COVID 19 pandemic and the related restrictions is a trend that we’ve seen across Canada. It’s not unique to us,” he said.

“Each life lost to addiction is a tragedy. We owe it to those we’ve lost to provide more and better access to treatment so that no Albertan is left without the hope of recovery.”