Expanding addiction, mental health teams in Edmonton

Associate Minister Ellis (R) was joined by Chief McFee (L) to announce government funding to expand the Edmonton Police Service’s Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership (HELP).

Edmonton Police Service’s Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership (HELP) teams partner Edmonton Police Service (EPS) constables with navigators who have the skills, knowledge and experience to support vulnerable Albertans.

The HELP teams work closely with local community organizations and focus their efforts on assuring people struggling with mental health and addiction are able to access recovery-oriented health care and social supports.

“Police services are an essential extension of the community and we are thrilled to partner with them in a shared approach to treating mental health and addiction as a health-care issue. With additional resources, the Edmonton Police Service’s HELP teams will be able to help more vulnerable Albertans access health care and social supports. We are working closely with community organizations to help people enter recovery and lead a full, productive life.”

Mike Ellis, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions  

“The HELP teams help break the arrest-remand-release cycle, easing pressure on our front-line officers and the justice system, as well as better supporting Albertans. We are grateful to all our partners, including the province of Alberta, who continue to help make positive changes in our community and on the lives of Edmontonians.”

Dale McFee, chief of police, Edmonton Police Service

HELP teams work to build relationships with vulnerable Albertans, identify people’s needs and help them access the services and supports they choose. The teams focus on helping those most at risk of becoming involved with the judicial system or of harming themselves, others or the community. This additional funding will be used to hire social navigators to partner with existing EPS personnel.

“It’s critical that our front-line law enforcement officers have the resources they need to treat mental health and addiction. By providing more support for the Edmonton Police Service’s HELP team, officers will have more time to tackle severe crime and ensure that offenders are not being missed on the streets.”

Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

“The partnership between EPS, Boyle Street and others involved in the HELP teams demonstrates the power of collaboration to create more effective pathways for support. Having social navigators work with EPS officers shows the potential of adding social support to those interacting with the justice system. We look forward to a long partnership with EPS that supports our vulnerable neighbours in the most appropriate ways.”

Jordan Reiniger, executive director, Boyle Street Community Services

Some of the community organizations involved in the HELP teams include:

  • Boyle Street Community Services
  • The Mustard Seed
  • Alberta Health Services
  • Alberta Community and Social Services
  • Community Paramedics
  • Forensic and Community Services
  • Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society
  • Homeward Trust
  • George Spady Centre Society
  • Boyle McCauley Health Services

Additionally, to prevent opioid-related fatalities, Alberta’s government launched the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app in Edmonton this fall. DORS is a mobile app designed to help protect Albertans from a fatal overdose and can be downloaded for free from a smartphone app store or via DORSApp.ca.

Alberta’s Recovery Plan is helping Albertans access life-saving addiction and mental health-related prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resources. A $140-million investment over four years is supporting the addition of new publicly funded addiction treatment spaces; the elimination of daily user fees for publicly funded residential addiction treatment; a new patient matching tool Recovery Access Alberta; and services to reduce harm, such as the Digital Overdose Response system (DORS), the introduction of a nasal naloxone pilot and the expansion of opioid agonist therapy.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s government is making unprecedented investments in addiction and mental health:
    • $140 million over four years to enhance the addiction and mental health care system and create 4,000 more publicly funded addiction treatment spaces. This funding includes $40 million specifically to support the opioid response.
    • More than $53 million to implement more online, phone and in-person mental health and addiction recovery supports to make it easier for Albertans to access services from anywhere in Alberta during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In addition, Alberta Health Services spends more than $800 million annually to provide addiction and mental health services in communities across the province.
  • For support, information and referral to services, call Alberta 211, the Addiction Helpline (1-866-332-2322) or the Mental Health Helpline (1-877-303-2642).