Alberta Recovery Model Continues to Fail Albertans

Alberta Recovery Model Continues to Fail Albertans

EDMONTON  This morning, Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Dan Williams announced the next phase of the UCP government’s ideological “Alberta Recovery Model,” with the establishment of two new organizations: Recovery Alberta and the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence (CoRE).

While today’s announcement purportedly reiterated the importance of data and evidence, in reality, this government’s track record shows a repeated refusal to follow the best evidence, and a continued unwillingness to make treatment data available to Albertans. Moreover, what remained conspicuously unmentioned was the fact that in 2023, Alberta saw our highest ever number of drug poisoning deaths. But rather than addressing this crisis today, we instead saw the Premier use cherry-picked data in an attempt to justify their ideological model which continues to contribute to a staggering death toll year after year. 

“The UCP government is still stubbornly claiming their approach as a success, while Albertans continue to die in unprecedented numbers from drug poisonings. This is a heartbreaking crisis, made all the more frustrating by this government’s refusal to address it,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Health care workers, advocates, and Albertans who are directly impacted by the ongoing drug toxicity crisis have been urging this government to put ideology aside and stop promoting this false dichotomy between treatment and harm reduction. It is glaringly clear that we need both: dead people can’t recover.” 

Friends of Medicare remains extremely concerned about the ongoing restructuring of Alberta Health Services, which aims to further silo our public health care system into four separate entities, without addressing the major challenges it is currently facing.

“This government is making major changes to our health care system, without so much as consulting with the front-line health care workers who are slated to be directly impacted,” says Gallaway. “We need to be laser-focused right now on recruiting and retaining health care workers to fix Alberta’s chronic short staffing crisis, but instead this government is ignoring the workforce and continuing to sow chaos in our already-struggling health care system.”

We are also concerned that today’s announcement will only continue to siphon our public health care dollars towards underregulated for-profit providers, and proliferate this government’s aggressive privatization agenda in our health care.

“Addictions care is health care, full stop. Albertans need to know that their mental health and addictions services are being delivered as part of our public health care system, not contracted out to the lowest bidder,” says Gallaway. “Every single one of Alberta’s drug poisoning deaths has been a policy failure. This is a public health crisis, and we need to ensure that the programs and services that are in place to address it are being publicly delivered, with the full transparency and accountability that Albertans and their families deserve.”

Friends of Medicare will be participating in Community Conversations: Drug Policy Alternatives for Alberta today in Calgary. Albertans are encouraged to attend in person or online, and to send an email to the Premier, the Minister and their MLA in support of harm reduction.

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