January 20th, 2021

Kenney announces addiction treatment for Lethbridge County and Blood Tribe First Nation

By Herald on July 25, 2020.

Premier Jason Kenney, along with Minister Jason Luan, Mayor Chris Spearman and MLA Nathan Neudorf in the background, answers a question during Saturday's recovery communities announcement in Standoff. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dale Woodard
Lethbridge Herald — Standoff
The Province of Alberta is stepping up the fight against addiction in southern Alberta.
In an announcement Saturday in Standoff, Premier Jason Kenney announced a $10-million capital investment to support construction of two recovery communities in southern Alberta.
The construction of two recovery communities will add 125 new long-term residential addiction treatment beds in Lethbridge County and the Blood Tribe First Nation as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, which includes $25 million to support construction of recovery communities. The government says the recovery communities, when completed, will play a critical role in supporting the health, wellness and long-term recovery of Albertans.
“Last Saturday we announced the first of these new treatment facilities, a 75-bed, fully-equipped recovery community in Red Deer,” said Kenney outside the Kainai Continuing Care Centre. “Today, I am pleased to announce that Alberta taxpayers are investing more than $10 million to build two new recovery communities here in southern Alberta. These include a $5 million investment for a 75-bed recovery community on the Blood Reserve and another $5 million for a 50-bed recovery community in Lethbridge County.
“In addition to these recovery communities we will dramatically expand access to medical detox in the region. This includes an additional $1,000,000 annually to upgrade 16 detox beds at the Foothills Center in Fort McLeod and an additional $1.2 million annually to add up to 15 detox and transition beds in the City of Lethbridge.”
The project is part of the more than $10 billion infrastructure spending announced as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, including $6.9 billion Budget 2020 capital spending, $980 million accelerated for Capital Maintenance and Renewal, $200 million for Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program and water infrastructure projects, $600 million in strategic infrastructure projects and $500 million in municipal infrastructure.
Recovery communities, also known as therapeutic communities, are a new state of the art approach to addiction treatment and recovery, said Kenney.
“It’s a long-term holistic treatment for people struggling with substance abuse, trauma and mental health issues. It has been successfully used in 65 countries around the world, very different from what we’ve seen in Canada where people detox, but then they can’t get into a treatment centre or they get into a treatment centre and treatment only lasts three or four weeks and before they know it, sometimes they are back and trapped in addiction. This is about a long-term approach that could be months and months of holistic support. People entering into recovery communities are given every opportunity and encouragement to take control of their addiction, to achieve sobriety, to improve their health and to reconnect with their loved ones.”
Kenney said an expert panel was appointed to assess the social and economic data and the impact of drug consumption sites.
“This was a panel made up of addictions experts, people in recovery from addiction, people who have lost family members to addiction, academics, scholars, medical experts, law-enforcement personnel and folks from the business community,” he said. “They came back with hard evidence that many of the drug consumption sites around Alberta ended up creating significant negative damage local neighbouring communities, on the economy with an increase in crime and in some places an increase in death in nearby areas.
“That report raised serious concerns about the operation of the ARCHES consumption site in Lethbridge, the largest drug consumption site in the province, which led to this month’s shocking audit report alleging financial malfeasance at ARCHES, including what appears to be some people profiting personally from the misery of others suffering from drug addiction. I think this is disgusting, it is outrageous and I condemn that kind of behavior. That is why Alberta government is withdrawing funding from that organization. There will be a seamless transition to services and that is part of what today’s announcement is about.”
Onhand at Saturdays’s announcement Lethbridge mayor Chris Spearman welcomed the new approach.
“Today we’re hitting the reset button. We need to have programs that people have confidence in. We need to give people hope and a chance to have meaningful lives. The announcement today is a new way of doing things. We’re going to work with our regional partners and work with the folks in Fort Macleod and Lethbridge County and right here on the Blood Reserve. We’re going to make sure everybody has an opportunity. We talk about reconciliation, we try to find meaningful reconciliation. Meaningful reconciliation means working together to solve problems we share. Addiction doesn’t end at the border in our communities. We need to work together, I’m willing to do that and will work with the provincial government and our Indigenous neighbours and make sure we can all succeed and save lives.”
Kenney said the province estimates the creation of approximately 50 jobs in the building of the facilities as well as addition operational jobs in the future.
“I look forward to working with the city, the county and the First Nation on ensuring these get done as quickly as possible.”
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Citi Zen

Hopefully this will be a really successful endeavor. But I have concerns that in future years it might come back to bite us in the a**. (residential schools?) Does the white man really have any business setting this up on the reserve? Hope I’m wrong….


Considering a large number of aboriginal addicts are living in Lethbridge and using its social services to be close to ARCHES SCS, yeah I think the White Man has every right to bring a treatment facility to the reserve.


Thank you Premier Kenney! This is one big step for Lethbridge getting back it’s neighbourhoods, streets, parks and allowing business to once again conduct operations in the downtown core. Will this happen right away . . of course not! There is light at the end of the tunnel now though! There is hope!

The SCS destroyed so many young First Nations lives and destroyed families by slowly taking away their lives as their bodies emaciated and their brains turned into Swiss cheese from all the drugs, including some who thought it was a game to see how many times they could be revived from overdoses, almost a badge of honor.
The young First Nations women whose dealers put them on the streets to prostitute their young bodies to pay for the drugs, never having enough left to buy anything else but the drugs. It was a viscious cycle that only seemed to have one way out . . . death, either by fatal overdose, suicide or from the many addiction or homeless related diseases that take so many.
From what I witnessed, many didn’t last 2 years. It was very, very sad to see them all slowly waste away as the SCS site enabled them and supplied all their needs to DO MORE DRUGS!
What is even more sad . . . this was all under the support of “Health Canada”, that is right , the feds were the ones that gave them the ‘Exemption’ to allow people to consume drugs!

Does “healthcare” mean slowly poisoning people and destroying their brains and lives?

Let us all learn a lesson from this! Over $25 million has been blown in just 2 years for the SCS and all the needed separate services to counter the impacts of the site.
ARCHES had $14.5 million from the Alberta Governmemt and received millions more from other donors. Factor in the Diversion Outreach Team, the Watch, the extra police/CPO’s, extra maintenance on EMS/Fire apparatus from all the extra overdose responses and total costs could even be as high as $30 million. We still have no idea what the costs were to put the homeless up in the Lodge Hotel on Mayor Magrath Drive for isolating addictis/homeless under COVID or the LSCO being used as a shelter, along with the massive cleaning costs after . . .

This was an expensive lesson to learn the hard way . . . but money is nothing . . . what about all of the lives that were lost, families destroyed, businesses lost, livelihoods ruined!

$25-$30 million would have gone a very long way towards treatment and we could have been on the upward swing by now!

Let us learn from this and move forward with positive, united efforts to resolve this crisis. We are not done . . . there is more to do!
Police will have to crack down the dealers, the human traffickers/pimps, and the crown will have to step up to the plate and get tough on these criminals that have no respect for human life, using these young people as pawns to pay for their expensive trucks and cars they cruise the streets in.

We will never get rid of all the addicts but we should be able to reduce the numbers dramatically!

There now is some hope for the ones that recently fell into this once endless cycle of devastation and death!

Thank you Premier for listening! Thank you Minister Jason Luan for listening! Thank you MLA Nathan Neudorf for listening to the community!


You’re apparently unaware that many aboriginals were addicts long before the SCS opened up. Do you seriously think addiction is going to just disappear with these new facilities?? You also seem to be unaware that alcohol is also an addiction for many living in our downtown core. I’m amused at your ignorance.

Citi Zen

Law enforcement still needs to deal with the dealers and pushers. They are the addicts best friend,, and they will always be waiting for them when they get out of treatment.

Tris Pargeter

I’m highly skeptical about this. Although it sounds good and hopeful, I’m reminded of Trump’s recent appreciation for the seriousness of COVID.
Who will be running these places I wonder? The word “holistic” also gives me pause, coming from this quarter.

Citi Zen

I, too, noticed the reference to “holistic” , but wondered if it was a typo meaning “wholistic”, (refers to a whole or whole body).