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Removing financial barriers to addiction treatment

Provincial Press Release November 6, 2020 @ 9:32am published at 2:10pm


Alberta’s government has eliminated user fees for all Albertans accessing publicly funded addiction treatment beds.


Historically, Albertans were charged a $40 per day user fee for residential addiction treatment, often paid for privately or covered by Alberta Supports. This change, for example, would save patients participating in 60-day publicly funded residential addiction treatment roughly $2,400 that they would have paid out of pocket.

This cost prohibited many Albertans from accessing residential addiction treatment, including students, senior citizens, and people in the workforce who make too much to qualify for Income Support, but not enough to pay privately.

“For the first time in Alberta’s history, publicly funded addiction treatment will be extended to all Albertans. Previously, people struggling with addiction could only access residential addiction treatment if they received Alberta Supports or paid privately. We are giving all Albertans – regardless of their financial situation – the opportunity to recover and build a better life. Recovery is for everyone.” Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

This change drastically expands access to residential addiction treatment for all Albertans, transforming the system to make treatment accessible to everyone.

“It’s hard to see people who need treatment have to make difficult decisions about how to pay for it. Improving access so that people can get the help they need, without worrying about the financial cost, will change people’s lives, especially during a time of economic uncertainty. This will help Albertans get the support they need now and into the future.” Kim Turgeon, executive director, Aventa

“Over the years that PEP has supported family recovery, we have heard numerous stories of life-time savings being depleted and homes being re-mortgaged to provide for a loved one’s step into treatment and recovery. The financial strain also impacts the family’s health and wellness in too many ways to mention. The magnitude of this shift in access and support to Albertans is huge.” Lerena Greig, executive director, Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Society

In lieu of requiring user fees from Albertans, the Alberta government has introduced a new standardized funding program for licensed agencies providing publicly funded addiction treatment services. This will result in better outcomes for Albertans as well as more consistent and stable funding for operators.

Albertans struggling with addiction can contact the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322 for support, information and referral to services. The toll-free, confidential helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Quick facts

  • The elimination of user fees applies only to Albertans accessing publicly funded addiction treatment beds.

  • The RATA supports were accessed by clients in the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and Income Support programs.

  • The RATA benefit was previously accessed by about 200 AISH and 2,500 Income Support clients each year.

  • In 2019, Alberta’s government licensed all treatment providers under the Mental Health Services Protection Act.

  • Last year, the provincial government announced $140 million over four years to enhance the mental health and addiction care system and treat 4,000 more individuals.

  • Alberta’s Recovery Plan provides a total of $25 million in capital funding to build five recovery communities across the province. The five recovery communities will add 400 publicly funded treatment beds to the province, which will have the potential to help more than 3,200 Albertans over two years.

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