The safety and well-being of people in crisis and experiencing homelessness in Edmonton and Calgary is a priority for Alberta’s government.

In November 2023, Premier Danielle Smith ordered a cabinet-level response to the escalating violence in homeless encampments. Premier Smith chaired the cabinet committee, bringing together seven ministries and also including the Edmonton Police Service and Grand Chief Cody Thomas from the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations. To eliminate dangerous encampments and meet the needs of the homeless population, cabinet ordered the creation and opening of Alberta’s first navigation and support centre in January.

To date, encampments have been virtually eliminated in Edmonton, over 700 people have accessed the centre and more than 2,550 referrals and direct connections have been made to available services.

As high-risk encampments were removed from Edmonton communities, the centre was the central co-ordination place for those most directly impacted. The support centre has been providing targeted support to the city’s most vulnerable, connecting them to income support, shelter and housing options, Identification, health care, mental health resources and addiction treatment.

“Enabling encampments is not compassion. It’s indifference to suffering. We won’t turn our backs on the most vulnerable in our province. We created the navigation and support centre because it’s one more way we can look after each other. Keeping the centre open to continue offering a centralized place for vulnerable Albertans to access numerous services and supports means more vulnerable Albertans can receive the help they need, more easily.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

“The success of the navigation and support centre in Edmonton has allowed hundreds of people to leave encampments behind and see positive change in their lives. Encampments will never be the answer to solving homelessness. Having this range of services accessible under one roof makes that possible.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services

“We will not sit back as our community members, brothers, and sisters suffer on our streets in homelessness and addiction. Gang-run drug camps are no place for someone to call home, which is why we will continue to ensure this centre is available and giving people the support they need.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

“The Support and Navigation Centre will continue to be a vital tool for helping Edmonton's most vulnerable get off the street and out of homelessness. We know encampments are overrun with gangs, drug trafficking, sexual assault and violent crime. Alberta’s government will not allow organized crime to prey on the community and we will ensure the navigation centre continues to provide wraparound supports to put an end to these encampments.”

Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services

A major benefit of the navigation and support centre model is the ability for people to be connected or referred to multiple supports and services when they access the centre. Of the connections made with community services:

  • More than 240 people have been connected to housing programs, including affordable housing and rental supplements.
  • More than 315 people have been connected to emergency shelter spaces, transitional and supportive housing.
  • More than 295 people have been referred for health supports.
  • More than 100 people have been connected to mental health and addiction services, including over 30 people who have started opioid agonist therapy (OAT).
  • Service Alberta has issued more than 460 identification cards on site.

“We have seen a great deal of positive change in safety for the vulnerable and the larger community. Not only are there fewer entrenched encampments rife with dangerous conditions, but we have also disrupted the criminal landscape that used them as cover for exploitation and violence. Police calls for service are down across all categories in former encampment areas like downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods, but they are also decreasing citywide, which tells us we are on the right track.”

Dale McFee, chief, Edmonton Police Service

“We are creating a template to meet the needs of people looking for a helping hand and a spark of hope, having an opportunity to heal their wounds.”

Cody Thomas, Grand Chief, Treaty Six

Quick facts

  • Provincially funded shelter operators in Edmonton include:
    • E4C (Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre)
    • Enoch Cree Nation
    • Elizabeth Fry Society
    • Hope Mission
    • The Mustard Seed
    • NiGiNan Housing Ventures
    • Operation Friendship Seniors Society
    • The Salvation Army
    • Urban Manor

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