Red Deer will have one of five drug treatment courts outside of Edmonton and Calgary as part of government’s four-year investment of up to $20 million toward expanding the program across the province.

The government is also providing Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) with a $50-million budget increase for initiatives to disrupt and dismantle organized crime. A portion of this new funding will allow ALERT to expand regional organized crime units across the province, including the addition of three new investigators to the regional unit based in Red Deer.

“Our government will be opening a drug treatment court in Red Deer to reduce crime by offering treatment to those struggling with addiction to help get their lives back on track. We are also ensuring law enforcement in central Alberta have the resources they need to disrupt and dismantle the organized crime groups that traffic and supply the illegal drugs that fuel addiction and take a terrible toll on our communities.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

“Our government has made several important investments in mental health and addiction services across the province over the last year to ensure all Albertans have access to the supports they need to get on the road to recovery. This announcement is no exception. Drug treatment courts are an important way to help Albertans on the road to recovery. We are committed to ensuring people everywhere, including in Red Deer, get the support they need now and in the future.”

Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

“I am pleased that our government has chosen Red Deer as one of the locations for five new drug treatment courts in Alberta. This provides a new avenue for Albertans struggling with substance abuse in central Alberta. I look forward to seeing the positive impact it has on its participants, their families, and our broader community.”

Adriana LaGrange, MLA for Red Deer-North

“The City of Red Deer welcomes news that the Government of Alberta has selected our city for a drug treatment court. With the significant public safety and health issues our community and region are facing, this will help to break the systemic cycle of addiction and crime as a much-needed alternative legal mechanism, as well as alleviate backlog pressures currently facing our justice system locally. Additional capacity in the local justice system will also help support the interests of victims of crime.”

Tara Veer, mayor, City of Red Deer

Expanding drug treatment courts

Drug treatment courts help break the cycle of crime motivated by addiction by giving people who commit non-violent offences access to judicially supervised treatment and recovery. Treatment is supplemented by frequent drug testing, incentives, sanctions and social services support.

“A drug treatment court in Red Deer will be an integral part of a positive, fundamental course correction in the public interest, providing opportunities for us to support individuals choosing to forsake crime, make restitution, and seek freedom from addictions, while respecting businesses and families in our wonderful community. Better days are ahead.”

Jason Stephan, MLA for Red Deer-South

"Rehabilitation of offenders is part of the sentencing regime courts must follow. Those people who are motivated to commit offences because of their addiction to drugs are often most in need of rehabilitation. A drug treatment court serving Red Deer and surrounding areas will assist the court in meeting this objective and we very much look forward to this addition to the court in central Alberta.”

Assistant Chief Judge James A. Hunter

“Drug treatment court is the reason I am alive today. I was facing four years in jail for trafficking methamphetamine in Camrose and was so sick and deep into my addiction that my life was falling apart. My children and I were near death. Today, I am proud to say that I continue my life in recovery and advocate for others who struggle with addictions and mental health.”

Pamela Spurvey, 2007 graduate, Edmonton Drug Treatment Court

“Drug treatment court was an integral part of my recovery journey. Like many, I caused a tremendous amount of harm while in active addiction. Without this program, I might not be alive today and I certainly wouldn’t be living a quality life in recovery. I am grateful for this government’s continued expansion of this program so others get the same opportunity for recovery that it gave me.”

Sheldon Bailey, participant, Drug Treatment Court

“Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) has built a strong partnership with the drug treatment court program over the years. This innovative program and the partnership we’ve built has meant that participants and their families are supported through their long-term recovery. We are excited to hear about the expansion of this program across the province and look forward to seeing its positive impacts.”

Lerena Greig, executive director, Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Society

“The announcement of the Red Deer Drug Treatment Court is an indication of the innovative and progressive work that Minister Schweitzer has undertaken to combat rural crime in Alberta. Drug treatment courts have proven success in creating the opportunity to change the lives of those who are caught in this cycle of addiction and crime.”

Grace Froese, director, Provincial Drug Court Expansion and Development, Edmonton John Howard Society

New funding will be used to establish drug treatment courts in five locations outside of Calgary and Edmonton. The court in Red Deer, along with a new program in Lethbridge announced earlier this year, is expected to be operational by late 2021. Three additional sites have yet to be determined.

Drug treatment courts have been operating in Edmonton since 2005 and Calgary since 2007, and part of the $20 million in additional funding is also being used to double the total combined capacity of the two existing courts to about 80 participants a year.

Expanding ALERT

As part of a build-up of regional organized crime units around the province, ALERT is adding three positions to an existing team of 15 investigators based in Red Deer.

“The added resources, and enhancement of our ALERT team in Red Deer, will create more opportunities for collaboration, intelligence sharing, and provide a more versatile response to serious and organized crime in the central Alberta region.”

Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, chief executive officer, ALERT

This move will expand ALERT’s geographic reach in rural areas. It also creates opportunities for investigators from smaller law enforcement agencies to gain experience working on complex cases, which they take back to their respective organizations.