Taking Mental Health and Addiction Seriously

Sep 10, 2021

Jan has a plan to invest annually in Calgary’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy

For many of us, mental health has been at an all time low during the pandemic. Many people are experiencing mental health difficulties for the first time. 2020 was the worst year on record for drug-related deaths. It is essential that we provide proper services and support for those struggling with their mental health or with addiction.

Calgary's Mental Health and Addiction Strategy, in the works since 2018, is a landmark program which brought together community members and service delivery partners to take action to address mental health and addiction issues in Calgary.

The strategy has not been smooth sailing. It continues to rely on one-time funding outside of the city budget. In 2018, City Councillors Jyoti Gondek and Sean Chu voted against creating and allocating funding to the strategy. This uncertainty means service providers can’t make long-term plans—every investment has to be made with the risk that operational funding could end soon. 

This uncertainty needs to change. The Mental Health and Addiction Strategy needs to be a priority for stable and predictable investment so we can transform how services are delivered in our city. 

The Mental Health and Addiction Strategy needs an annual investment of at least $10 million to ensure progress continues. 

This will fund individualized supports and fill in gaps in services and supports identified during the creation of the Strategy. 

Jan proposes to provide base annual funding of $10 million from the annual savings identified in the SAVE program, in addition to operational savings allocated from reducing police overtime generated by responding to mental health and addictions calls. 

We’ve already seen some Councillors, such as Jyoti Gondek and Sean Chu, put the entire strategy at risk by refusing to fund it. This has to change. Providing proper support for those struggling with mental health or addiction is a priority and it requires consistent and adequate funding on an annual basis. 

This will save lives, save money, and reduce interactions of the police with people in crisis so they can focus on tackling crime. 

This is part of Jan’s plan to ensure everyone is included in our recovery.