Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says Alberta is “indisputably” Canada’s leader in a recovery oriented system of care following the four years of the United Conservative Party government’s efforts to address homelessness and addictions epidemic. 

The premier was speaking on Tuesday morning in Calgary to 1,300 attendees at the Alberta Recovery Conference. 

Smith said the devastating impacts of addiction on families and communities are evident in Alberta and across North America — and it’s a result of years of neglecting systems of care. 

“Since being elected in 2019, our government has sought to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to pursue recovery,” she said.

“There are some of us that tell us that we have unreasonable expectations, predicting that recovery is not an achievable or even a realistic goal. But what they fail to understand is this: when we see recovery as possible, we’re providing hope and optimism to people who are often living without any hope. We’re saying that you can recover and there is a better life for you that you deserve and that we will be there for you.”

Smith touted the six recovery communities currently underway, including one in north Red Deer which is about to open its door to residents. The facilities recreate community in a healthy way.

Budget 2023 allocated funding for nine recovery communities with $75 million to put three new projects on the books, bringing the total investment to more than $200 million. 

“Recovery communities mark a monumental shift in the way addiction treatment is provided in Alberta,” she said. “When all is said and done, they will add nearly 700 new treatment beds across the province.”

The government is partnering with organizations to offer 10,000 Albertans barrier free access to treatment services.They’ve also eliminated all user fees for publicly funded addiction treatments, which previously cost $40 per day.

The premier also said that budget 2023, if passed, would provide $275 million in funding for the ministry of mental health and addiction — that’s up from $87 million in 2019.

“This record breaking investment would be used to focus on key priorities, including increasing our harm reduction programs, indigenous partnerships, further increasing access to treatment and recovery supports helping children and youth improve their mental health, partnering with first responders to keep communities safe while treating mental health and addiction compassionately.” 

Smith said, “none of this could have happened” without the leadership of Jason Kenney. The former premier recruited Marshall Smith, a recovered addict of 17 years, from BC to run Alberta’s addictions and mental health office.

Smith is now chief of staff to the premier, an appointment he told True North “without a question” signifies the seriousness with which the premier considers the addictions crisis. 

Smith said her government has rejected the idea that the system we inherited from the previous government is the best we can do. 

“We dared to set higher expectations, we’ve made significant progress toward achieving them,” she said.

“We are well on our way to having systems of care where recovery and wellness is possible for everyone.”


  • 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.