The Calgary Public Safety and Community Response Task Force to tackle Calgary social issues
December 16, 2022
The Calgary Public Safety and Community Response Task Force will address social issues through a coordinated response between the province, city and local partners.
Addiction, homelessness and public safety issues have affected every community in Alberta, with Calgary being no exception. To address these issues and build on the province’s recovery-oriented system of addiction and mental health care, Alberta’s government is forming the Calgary Public Safety and Community Response Task Force.
The task force will implement a series of initiatives in Calgary as part of a $187-million commitment to address addiction and homelessness in Alberta’s urban centres. In Calgary, nearly $58 million of this funding will go directly toward addressing addiction and homelessness in Alberta’s largest city.
This is in addition to more than $73 million in funding for Calgary shelter spaces and other housing supports this year, and the nearly $10 million already allocated to further increase access to addiction treatment beyond the 8,000 spaces initiative.
“We are taking a fair, firm and compassionate approach to addressing addiction, homelessness and public safety issues in Calgary. By bringing community partners together, we will be able to implement a series of recovery-oriented initiatives that will support Calgarians struggling with these complex social issues.”
Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction
“By working with our partners in Calgary, I am confident that we will see positive impacts on the entire community. The collaborative steps we are taking through this task force will help many individuals recover from addiction, find housing support and get their lives back.”
Jeremy Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services
The initiatives the task force is responsible for implementing will help provide more life-saving services to Calgarians struggling with addiction and homelessness while enhancing public safety within the city. This work will include:
- further increasing addiction treatment capacity in Calgary
- providing addiction and mental health treatment programs in correctional centres
- creating a hybrid health and police hub
- expanding medical detox services
- building harm reduction and recovery outreach teams
- expanding access to emergency shelter space
- improving access to affordable housing options that support recovery
“As a cogeneration Calgary police officer, and now the minister responsible for public safety, I understand how much addiction impacts life in our cities. This expert group focused on recovery-oriented systems of care will make a real difference in Calgary by bringing the necessary supports together to help those who are struggling break the cycle of addiction.”
Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services
“Communities across Alberta have expressed the need for a collaborative approach to help address addiction and mental health issues. Our government is happy to be working alongside local leaders and organizations to deliver support to Albertans who need it.”
Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Municipal Affairs
Task force members are:
- Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction
- Jeremy Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services (chair)
- Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services
- Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Municipal Affairs
- Reuben Breaker, Councillor Asinaipoka, Siksika Nation
- Jodi Two Guns, executive director of social development, Tsuu T’ina Nation
- Sonya Sharp, Ward 1 councillor, City of Calgary
- Andre Chabot, Ward 10 councillor, City of Calgary
- David Duckworth, city manager, City of Calgary
- Steve Dongworth, fire chief, Calgary Fire Department
- Mark Neufeld, chief constable, Calgary Police Service
- Kerry Bales, senior program officer, Provincial Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services
- Tony Pasich, associate executive director, EMS Operations, Alberta Health Services South Zone
- Patricia Jones, chief executive officer, Calgary Homeless Foundation
The Calgary Public Safety and Community Response Task Force will met for the first time on Dec. 16, 2022
“We are facing an addiction crisis and have been for several decades. We have lost many lives to addiction. When it comes to saving lives, we must put aside all our differences and work together with all possible resources available. Our people need help now more than ever. We must never give up.”
Reuben Breaker, Councillor Asinaipoka, Siksika Nation
“Councillor Sharp and I are looking forward to working with the provincial government to address the ever-increasing need for supports and services for our most vulnerable population. We have recently invested in mental health and addiction programs in our budget, which will dovetail nicely with what will be an enhanced opportunity to deliver on homelessness, addiction treatment and safety for all Calgarians.”
Andre Chabot, Ward 10 councillor, City of Calgary
Alberta spends more than $1 billion annually on addiction and mental health care and supports, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery. This includes adding more than 8,000 new publicly funded treatment spaces; eliminating daily user fees for residential addiction treatment; launching the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app; expanding opioid agonist treatment; and fully covering the cost of the injectable opioid treatment drug Sublocade.
- Albertans experiencing addiction or mental health challenges can contact 211 for information on services in their community.
- Albertans struggling with opioid addiction can contact the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) by calling 1-844-383-7688, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. VODP provides same-day access to addiction medicine specialists. There is no waitlist.
- There are more than 28,000 visits per year to emergency departments in Alberta hospitals by patients of no fixed address. The vast majority of these patients are being discharged from emergency departments back into homelessness with little or no supports.
Senior Press Secretary, Mental Health and Addiction