June 25th, 2024

Mental health and addictions issues need multi-pronged approach, says minister

By Herald on July 19, 2021.

Mike Ellis, newly appointed Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, centre, tours Galt Gardens Monday with Coun. Blaine Hyggen and MLA Nathan Neudorf. Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski

Tim Kalinowski – Lethbridge Herald

Newly appointed Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis visited Lethbridge on Monday just one day after the Government of Alberta confirmed a long-awaited 50-bed recovery community will likely begin construction this fall near the current site of the South Country Fresh Start Recovery Centre in Lethbridge County.

Ellis toured Galt Gardens and the overdose prevention site near the Lethbridge homeless shelter while meeting with local officials about the mental health and addictions situation in the city.

“I think it is important to check out all areas of the province, but especially here in Lethbridge,” stated Ellis, who also toured facilities at the Blood Tribe earlier on Monday.  “I heard this is a park that obviously has people that are vulnerable. We want to see what is happening here, and also talking to the law enforcement community, talking to politicians out here, to see in what way the provincial government can provide services out here.”

In addition to confirming that construction would likely begin this fall on the recovery community facility, the Government of Alberta also confirmed it would be providing $300,000 to Southern Alcare Manor to add 11 publicly funded residential recovery treatment beds there.

“It’s about treatment and recovery, education, prevention, intervention,” stated Ellis when asked about his focus coming into his new Mental Health and Addictions role. “For those of you in Lethbridge, I actually have a bit of a background in this. I used to be a sergeant myself within the Calgary Police Service, dealt with a lot of the vulnerable population as a law enforcement officer. I was appointed (to) the Secretariat for Action on Homelessness, and certainly have been provided some strategic feedback in the past. I believe Alberta, with the foundation that has been laid here, has an opportunity to become a role model throughout Canada on this.”

The Herald asked Ellis if his ministry has any plans to help fund additional transitional housing or other housing supports in Lethbridge in order to help those who go through recovery have the best chance to succeed long-term in living a substance-free life?

“We are open to hear what ideas everyone is having regarding helping those who are most vulnerable,” he replied. “For myself, it is a week into the role, but I know, especially when we were dealing with the opioid crisis, I have always said this over the last couple of years: it is a multi-pronged approach. There isn’t just one solution in order to help people with mental health and addictions. It is going to take the community. I think the government has to be open to all ideas.”

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pursuit diver

There are many positive programs that have been put in place in the last year and with more treatment beds on the way and other programs recently announced for youth, I think we are on the right track. Not more funding for the killing machines that call themselves harm reduction- safe consumption sites that kill more people than any other disease.
We have to shut down the treatment programs with low success rates, the 3 week programs, etc.! Lethbridge is unique since the demographics we see on our streets are mostly Indigenous, a higher representation than Calgary, Edmonton, or Red Deer.
Lethbridge is next door to the largest Indigneous community in Canada, along with 3 others close by, Siksika/Pikani/Blackfeet Montana, as well as seeing other Indigenous communities represented on our streets. We can resolve this, but that means police will have to get tougher on drug use on our streets, which will mean the Crown will have to support the police in their actions, along with the judicial system. We can do this, but we have to take off the gloves. Just because they are Indigenous, it doesn’t mean that we have to allow them to break all of our laws!
We are not helping them! We are slowly killing them! Get them clean, get them working! For those with mental health issues, treat them! They can work, because we see others that have worse mental health issues and physical handicaps working and wanting to work because it gives them a sense of purpose, increasing their self esteem.
You are right, Alberta can be a role model for Canada, starting in Lethbridge, going for effective policing that frowns on drug use, addiction and mental health treatment that works, drug courts with connections to education/job training programs, and reducing safe consumption sites that enable users to continue their addictions, while doing nothing to get them into treatment!
We have started to put together a foundation to reach our goal of taking back our streets, parks and neighbourhoods, but we need to take the gloves off. Treating one group differently to another group because of their race is racism! What ever happened to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – ‘ALL ARE TO BE TREATED EQUAL UNDER THE LAW’ ! –
How can you ever expect to see Reconciliation when a gun is being held to our heads, forcing it on us, while we are being called ‘colonialists’, perpetrators of genocide, all while our parks are being taken over by Indigenous, our neighbourhoods are being pillaged and our streets are being used as toilets/bedrooms/shooting galleries/a place to party? There is anger in this city and if we don’t clean up this mess, it will only grow!
Please continue to work to put programs in place to get these people off the streets and working! Just throwing them into houses will do nothing! They need treatment! If they won’t take it, then jail!

Last edited 2 years ago by pursuit diver

It’s not as if the LPS are turning a blind eye to Indigenous crime, so you’re implied statement is inappropriate and either needs to be edited or deleted. To arrest any person on a misdemeanour drug charge isn’t only a waste of LPS time and resources, but the court system’s as well. It’s the dealers they focus on and I think they’re doing a good job of it. We can see their busts of dealers almost every week on their Facebook page.

Also, didn’t the previous minister already assess the Lethbridge situation?