Amid ongoing efforts to battle the addictions and homelessness epidemic plaguing the province, the Alberta government is providing more than $4 million to address overdoses in Calgary. 

The funds will flow to the Calgary Drop-In Centre to create dynamic overdose response teams and establish 35 medical detox and pre-treatment beds, capable of supporting up to 1,000 Calgarians every year, the government says.  

Calgary Drop-In Centre executive director Sandra Clarkson said the additional beds will be “life-saving and life-changing for countless people in the years to come.”

Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Nicholas Milliken said the government is treating mental health and addiction as health care issues by building recovery-oriented systems of care so every Albertan has the opportunity to pursue recovery.

“Whether it’s rapidly responding to an overdose, accessing medical detox or pre-treatment, the impact of this funding will be life-saving and life-changing for so many Albertans,” he said in a statement. 

The partnership stems from efforts from the newly created Calgary Public Safety and Community Response Task Force. Developed by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in the early days of her premiership, task forces in both Calgary and Edmonton seek to improve public safety while treating addiction and mental health as health care issues. 

Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services, and Calgary’s task force chair, Jeremy Nixon said more Albertans will get the help they need to overcome their challenges with more access to addiction recovery treatment.

“Our government’s focus on addiction recovery and supports for those facing homelessness is bringing positive change for Calgary,” he said. 

Through the funding, the centre will add 15 medical detox beds and 20 pre-treatment beds. 

“Albertans struggling with addiction will be supported to safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol under medical supervision,” says a government release. 

“They will also be provided with pre-treatment support to prevent relapse and better understand treatment options as they continue their pursuit of recovery.

The centre works directly with local paramedics, first responders and community organizations to respond to overdoses both at the Drop-In Centre as well as in the community.

All publicly funded detox, treatment and recovery spaces are free for Albertans, with no user fees.

Meanwhile, the United Conservative Party government’s first major effort to allow addicts to be “unencumbered in their pursuit of a better life for themselves” will open later this month. 

The Red Deer Recovery Community, the only one of its kind in Alberta, is the first of six massive recovery communities currently being built by the province. 

The new facility in north Red Deer is nearly the size of a football field. It has 75 beds and the ability to treat up to 300 people per year. There are also recovery communities underway in Lethbridge, Gunn, Calgary, Edmonton and on the Blood Tribe.


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.