The funding will go to the Calgary Recovery Services Task Force over three years to improve coordination between agencies and help individuals access a range of health supports, including mental-health and substance use treatment, more quickly.
"People who are experiencing homelessness face incredible challenges finding the right resources. We need to create better ways to help individuals get the help they need, including access to housing, treatment for substance use and mental-health supports. This funding will help the task force build greater links between service providers to help them better meet the needs of the city’s most vulnerable population.”
The task force is a collaboration of 26 representatives from homeless-serving agencies, government and community partners, who have come together to better coordinate services and programs for Calgary's chronically homeless population. Earlier this year, the task force released its final report, which makes seven recommendations to improve the health, wellness and housing outcomes for these Calgarians. The task force will use this new funding to hire two staff members to streamline the referral process and implement the recommendations.
"What we’ve learned about individuals living in prolonged homelessness, and about their health, is that they have complex experiences and are not always getting the care they need to improve their well-being and move out of homelessness. The ultimate goal of the task force is to bring together the right mix of community resources and find ways of working collaboratively to bring about change and system transformation that will achieve better health and housing outcomes for our city’s most vulnerable population.”
“Investment in Calgary’s Recovery Services Task Force is reaffirmation of the Government of Alberta’s commitment to address the mental health, addictions and health concerns of those experiencing homelessness. As the system planner for Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care, we understand the value of the not for profit sector and recognize the complexities of the relationship between the health system and the homeless-serving system. Strengthening these relationships and a continued commitment to work together is necessary to meet the needs of vulnerable people and to end their experience of homelessness.”
The need for better integration amongst service providers is also a key theme that emerged from the provincial government's 2015 Valuing Mental Health Review. That review found that more than 60 per cent of people with substance-use and mental-health issues will not seek the help they need – because of stigma and lack of help navigating the system.
"Improving mental health and addiction outcomes requires community-based services working collaboratively to deliver supports and services that are proven to have impact. This new investment from the Government of Alberta supports community-based mental-health and addiction services, which aligns with the recommendations of Valuing Mental Health, ultimately reducing the demand on more costly and longer term interventions.”
The Alberta government continues to improve access to mental health services following the Valuing Mental Health review. Budget 2017 allocates $15 million to support the implementation of recommendations that came out of the review. Overall, Budget 2017 invests more than $80 million for mental-health and substance-use supports – a 64 per cent increase in funding over the previous year.