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Health

Looking to Quit Smoking? You Can Get Free Coaching & Support During National Non-Smoking Week!

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If you’re hoping to quit smoking, you know that there’s not one definitive way to go about it and you know it won’t be easy.

From cold turkey, to hypnosis to medication, the options for quitting seem endless. And while there is much research about the various ways to quit, London Drugs says they stand behind the combination of quit medication and quit counselling.

As part of the Canadian Council on Tobacco Control’s National Non-Smoking Week, the retailer is offering free stop-smoking counselling at pharmacies from January 21st to January 27th, 2018. In addition to providing tips and advice for reduction and quitting, pharmacists with proper authorization can also prescribe oral medications such as Champix and Zyban.

And even if you don’t make it to a pharmacy though, you know you’re on the right track if you’re considering quitting for good! Here are a couple stop-smoking resources you can access anytime:

Alberta Quits is a portal for free, web-based support from Alberta Health Services.

Smokers’ Helpline from the Canadian Cancer Society offers free and personalized tools to help you quit.

Alberta

Alberta announces combined $187 million in addictions and homelessness funding

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By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

The Alberta government has announced more than $124 million over two years for addiction and mental health services in Edmonton and Calgary, with another $63 million aimed at reducing homelessness in the province over the same period.

The funding for Edmonton and Calgary will go toward increasing treatment spaces while expanding addiction services, with $70 million earmarked for capital spending and $54 million to assist operations.

A 75-bed, co-ed long-term treatment facility is planned to be operational in Edmonton by the end of 2023, while a similar facility is to be built in Calgary by early 2024.

The $63 million is to support steps outlined in the government’s action plan on homelessness.

Premier Jason Kenney stressed his government’s recovery-based approach to the addictions issue when he announced the funding Saturday, calling British Columbia’s recent move to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs in January “reckless.”

“In the area of addressing addictions, there are many that believe recovery is a false hope. It’s not possible, and instead what we should do is actually to facilitate dangerous addictions rather than to offer an off-ramp to freedom from addiction,” Kenney said during the announcement at Edmonton’s Herb Jamieson Centre.

“The whole point is to give people a fighting chance to escape from the grips of addiction so they have the opportunity to build a new, safe fulfilling life.

“Recovery works. It’s not a new concept or an untested Utopian theory,” he said.

Under the Alberta plan, the number of winter shelter spaces will be expanded in communities like Edmonton, Wetaskiwin and Lethbridge, and in rural communities where there is an urgent and unmet need.

All provincially funded shelters will also provide round-the-clock access seven days a week, while funding will be equalized between community-based organizations in Edmonton and Calgary.

The funding will include $5 million to create up to 450 additional shelter spots in Edmonton, bringing the number of emergency spaces in the city to over 1,000.

The plan also includes $2.5 million in 2022-2023 to test the so-called service hub model in two pilot programs in Calgary and Edmonton. These six-month long programs will connect people directly with support and services such as addictions recovery, housing and emergency financial support, beginning this fall.

Meanwhile, the addictions funding will be used to increase the ability of direct outreach teams through Edmonton police and Alberta Health Services to provide support and overdose prevention services. The same expansion of services will also be carried out in Calgary.

Edmonton police chief Dale McFee lauded the fact that housing options include support for mental health and addictions as he personally thanked Kenney for the new funding.

“This is the biggest single investment that I’ve ever seen over the course of my career in actually addressing the system versus putting more money into silos that are actually generating a lot of the problem,” McFee said at the announcement.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the funding would tackle the root causes of homelessness, and also praised the fact the province was delivering on a request to provide enhanced plans when prisoners are discharged from corrections facilities.

In July, the city requested a hub where social workers, firefighters and peace officers could work together to reduce crime and address a spike in violence downtown, in nearby Chinatown and and on the transit system.

“These investments show our collaborative approach is working, and together we are making life better for struggling Edmontonians,” Sohi said at the announcement.

But NDP Critic for Seniors and Housing Lori Sigurdson said in a news release that Kenney’s government has cut funding for housing, noting buildings that could have opened months ago are sitting empty because the government hasn’t provided operational funding.

“The money announced today does not even begin to address the deeper need for permanent supportive housing, social housing and affordable housing in this province,” she said.

According to the province, over 6,400 Albertans were experiencing homelessness— including nearly 4,000 using emergency shelters or on the streets — as of Jan. 31.

Alberta saw more than 1,600 opioid-related deaths in 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2022.

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Alberta

Alberta government adds $750 million to health-care system in agreement with doctors

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The United Conservative Party government says it will spend another $750 million on health care as part of an agreement with the Alberta Medical Association.

It said the deal announced Thursday is to guarantee that all physicians receive an average rate increase of between four and 5.25 per cent over the next three years.

The $750 million is to be used for recruitment and retention programs, rural and remote programming and expanding capacity across the system.

Health Minister Jason Copping said urgent action is needed to stabilize the health-care system that has been under increased pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is no quick fix, there is no easy fix,” Copping said at a news conference in Red Deer, Alta.

There have been concerns over how sustainable the health-care system will be as a “bad flu season” approaches.

Copping said Alberta Health Services is working to increase its capacity to prepare for the potential of increased hospitalizations.

Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren, president of the Alberta Medical Association, said it’s important to build trust and maintain relationships between doctors and the government.

“Trust is something that is easily broken and hard to rebuild,” Warren said at the news conference. “It’s the actions going ahead into the future that really is going to be building that trust.”

Copping said the government’s relationship with the association has improved over the past year.

The agreement comes as the United Conservative Party prepares to choose a new leader and premier on Oct. 6 to replace Jason Kenney. The new leader will face a provincial election in the spring.

Warren said it doesn’t matter who the next premier is.

“Health care is health care and patients need that care no matter who is running the boat,” said Warren. “Stability is necessary to begin rebuilding and healing and making change. Introduction of chaos is not helpful.”

The association filed a lawsuit in April 2020 accusing the government of breaching collective bargaining rights and negotiating in bad faith after it unilaterally tore up a master agreement with doctors and tried to make changes to how they are compensated for their services.

The 11,000 physicians represented by the association refused to ratify a tentative deal in March of 2021, citing distrust of the government as a key factor.

Warren said the lawsuit will remain in place until legislation that allowed the province to rip up the contract is rescinded by the government.

Just over 70 per cent of the physicians who voted were in favour of the agreement, which will be in place until March 2026.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

— By Angela Amato in Edmonton with files from Dean Bennett

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