Premier Jason Kenney announced at a Wednesday press conference that the Province of Alberta would be funnelling additional funding towards mental health support.
According to Kenney, a total of $53 million will go towards implementing more online, phone, and in-person mental health and addiction recovery support, which will be accessible from anywhere in the province both during and following the current COVID-19 pandemic.
From that funding, $21.4 million will be going towards improving access to existing helplines like the Addiction Helpline, the Mental Health Helpline, the Kids Help Phone, and the Community and Social Services Helpline (Alberta 211).
“We know people are struggling right now, and we want Albertans to know that help is there for them through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said Kenney in a press release.
“Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring folks have the support they need to cope and stay mentally healthy during these tough times, which is why our mental health response is the largest in Canada, with funding greater than all other provinces combined.”
A total of $2.6 million will go towards expanding group and individual treatment that addresses family violence, addiction, and mental health, while $4.2 million will expand the current addiction and mental health supports that are available through the Primary Care Network.
An additional $25 million will be used to create a new community grant program that will enhance mental health and addiction recovery for indigenous communities, seniors, families, and those experiencing social barriers who have been affected negatively by the coronavirus, according to the release.
“We are grateful to continue partnering with the Alberta government to support the mental health of all Albertans as they deal with this difficult time,” said Kids Help Phone President and CEO Katherine Hay, in the release.
“We have been supporting young people for over 30 years, but in partnership with the Government of Alberta, this will be the first time we will be able to leverage our experience to support Albertans of all ages.”
The newly announced funding is in addition to the $140 million that had been previously announced for the creation of addiction recovery spaces.