We are transforming Alberta’s health system to a new Alberta model of care that adopts a recovery-oriented approach for addiction and mental health.
A recovery-oriented system of care is a coordinated network of personalized, community-based services for people at risk of or experiencing addiction and mental health challenges. It provides access to a full continuum of services and supports, from prevention and intervention to treatment and recovery.
This Alberta model is informed by recommendations from the Mental Health and Addiction Advisory Council. Their final report, Toward an Alberta model of wellness provides a framework to help achieve our vision of building a system where every Albertan has the opportunity to pursue recovery and live a healthy and productive life.
Recommendations and supporting actions
We have accepted all recommendations in the Mental Health and Advisory Council's final report, Toward an Alberta model of wellness report and are taking steps to implement them.
Recommendation 1. Establish a shared vision
A shared vision and collective commitment across individuals, families, municipalities, workplaces, cross-sectoral government partners and the philanthropic and private sectors can support system transformation and enable Albertans to achieve and maintain recovery.
Actions we're taking
In June 2021, the Government of Alberta initiated an Alberta Recovery Council to work toward a shared vision of recovery-oriented care.
This council includes senior decision makers from:
- Mental Health and Addiction
- Alberta Health Services
- Public Safety and Emergency Services
- Seniors, Community and Social Services
- Children’s Services
- Indigenous Relations
The role of the council is to provide support, advice and recommend action to government and support the implementation of a recovery-oriented system of care across relevant ministries.
Recommendation 2. Improve foundational supports
A strong provincial foundation for recovery-oriented systems of care includes enabling policy, consistent key processes, service integration supports and information technology.
Actions we're taking
Alberta’s government has made significant progress in improving foundational supports, including:
- Adding 10,000 new publicly funded addiction treatment spaces (PDF, 124 KB) across the province.
- Eliminating daily user fees for publicly funded addiction treatment spaces so that every Albertan can access them for free.
- Providing treatment on demand through the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program
- Supporting the province-wide implementation of HealthIM to Alberta, a digital tool to support police when responding to mental health emergencies.
- Expanding drug treatment courts, which help break the cycle of addiction-motivated crime by giving non-violent offenders access to judicially supervised treatment and recovery.
- Implemented licensing and quality standards for supervised consumption services to ensure clients are better connected to the health-care system and improve community safety.
- Launching the Alberta Substance Use Surveillance System, a comprehensive data reporting dashboard on substance use in the province.
- Launching the Digital Overdose Response System, a mobile app that helps prevent fatal drug overdose among people using substances alone.
- Establishing Community Protection and Opioid Stewardship Standards to protect communities from high-risk opioidswhile supporting Albertans with severe opioid addiction.
- Introducing standards for psychedelic-assisted therapy to ensure proper safeguards and medical oversight.
- Supporting the implementation of the My Recovery Plan software at publicly funded addiction treatment facilities to improve data and outcomes reporting.
Recommendation 3. Strengthen recovery-oriented systems of care
Communities can create effective solutions tailored to the local context through involving a broad range of partners as co-creators. Investment in building capacity in communities will speed up development of new sustainable, practical and evidence informed innovations.
Actions we're taking
Alberta’s government continues to strengthen recovery-oriented systems of care across the province by:
- Building 6 recovery communities in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Gunn and on the Blood Tribe First Nation, to provide holistic long-term residential addiction treatment to Albertans experiencing addiction.
- Increasing mental health and addiction supports for children and youth in classrooms and communities.
- Expanding access to life-saving opioid agonist treatment medications, including the Sublocade injection.
- Partnering with police services to offer access to addiction treatment through the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program upon an individual’s arrest
- Creating hybrid health and police facilities to better integrate services and expanding therapeutic living units to all provincial correctional facilities
- Supporting youth mental health hubs to provide young Albertans with a one-stop shop for services that improve their mental health and overall wellness.
- Strengthening addiction treatment for youth in care through the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program
- Providing seniors and their caregivers with community-based mental health and addiction supports.
- Expanding access to affordable counselling options across the province, including virtual and in-person mental health supports.
- Supporting community-based organizations working to help more Albertans in their recovery from addiction and mental health challenges.
- Supporting the recovery coaches program, which trains people in long-term recovery to help other Albertans experiencing addiction get well.
How we got here
The Alberta Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council was appointed in November 2019 to provide recommendations to improve access to recovery-oriented care and better support Albertans on their path to recovery.
Council members included Albertans with personal experience dealing with addictions as well as those with experience in emergency and crisis services, mental health and addiction recovery services, primary and home care settings, Indigenous health, justice, law enforcement and civil society.
The Council’s recommendations were developed using their extensive expertise and personal experience dealing with addictions, research carried out on the Council’s behalf and Council members’ engagement with stakeholders.