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Alberta

Red Deer Recovery Community will offer hope for residents from Central Alberta and around the world

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Central Albertans won’t be the only ones paying close attention to the official opening of the Red Deer Recovery Community next month. According to Marshall Smith, Chief of Staff to Premier Danielle Smith, jurisdictions from across North America will be looking to the Red Deer Recovery Community for potential answers to their own issues. Red Deer Recovery Community will be the first of 11 the province is opening over the coming months.

Cities across North America and beyond have been battling an addictions crisis, and losing. As the number of homeless people and the number of fatal overdoses continues to rise, cities are looking for new solutions. After years of slipping further behind, Alberta has decided on a new approach to recovery and Marshall Smith has been leading the charge.

Smith is a recovering addict himself.  A political organizer from BC, he once worked for former Premier Gordon Campbell.  His own crisis started with alcohol, then moved to cocaine dependency before he eventually succumbed to methamphetamine use.  The successful political operative found himself without work and living on the street for over four years. Eventually he benefited from a 35 day stay in a publicly funded recovery centre in BC.

Former Alberta Premier Jason Kenney brought Smith to Alberta to head up the UCP’s addictions and recovery file.  His personal experiences and incredible comeback story are at the heart of Alberta’s new approach.

While the success of recovery programs vary, Marshall Smith and Dr. Christina Basedow of the Edgewood Health Network (operators of Red Deer Recovery Community) say with the right treatment and the right amount of time, they expect a very high rate of successful recoveries.  Smith says the province won’t give up on patients, even if some have to go through more than once.

The Recovery Community is central to this new approach, but patients who will be able to stay for up to a year, will need somewhere to go when they leave. This week the province also announced the Bridge Healing Transitional Accommodation Program in Edmonton.  This “second stage” housing will ensure former addicts have a place to stay upon leaving addiction treatment centres. This will be their home in the critical days following treatment when they need to reestablish their lives by finding work or educational opportunities.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston feels the 75 bed Recovery Community will be transformation for Central Alberta. Mayor Johnston says all Central Albertans will play an important role in helping former addicts when they leave the Recovery Community.

Construction of the Red Deer Recovery Community is all but complete.

Thursday, municipal and provincial politicians toured the facility and were introduced to the operators of the new facility. Dr Christina Basedow, Western VP of Edgewood Health Network teamed up with Nicholas Milliken, Alberta’s Mental Health and Addiction Minister, to take questions about operations.

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan, Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston, Dr. Christina Basedow, Minister Nicholas Milliken, Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange

Premier Danielle Smith made the trip to Central Alberta to offer support for the project and see the facility first hand.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Premier Danielle Smith listen to Chief of Staff Marshall Smith 

Marshall Smith explains aspects of the Recovery Community to Premier Danielle Smith, Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Red Deer MLA’s Adriana LaGrange and Jason Stephan

In the days leading up to an official opening expected in February, Edgewood Health Network is finalizing the admission process which will see the first batch of up to 75 people suffering addictions moving into single and double occupied rooms.

Typical double occupancy room at Red Deer Recovery Community

The new 75-bed facility, will begin accepting residents battling addictions in February.  Those residents will stay for up to a full year accessing medications, programming and developing life skills.

In the meantime the province expects a recovery industry will be developing in Red Deer including second stage housing opportunities and counselling.

Alberta

‘Always remember’: Funeral held for 2 Edmonton police officers killed on duty

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A sheriff salutes during a procession for Edmonton Police Service Const. Travis Jordan and Const. Brett Ryan in Edmonton on Monday, March 27, 2023. The officers were killed in the line of duty on March 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

By Ritika Dubey and Angela Amato in Edmonton

Two police officers killed in the line of duty were honoured Monday at a regimental funeral with tears and tales of off-key crooning, birdies and beers, laughs and contagious joy.

Thousands of officers gathered with family members to say a formal goodbye to Edmonton police Const. Travis Jordan, 35, and Const. Brett Ryan, 30, at Rogers Place arena, the home area of the Edmonton Oilers.

“I’ll remember his smile, his wheezy laugh — we’ve been told we laugh the exact same way. I will always remember how excited he was when Brett found out he was going to be a dad, and I know that is one memory I will never lose,” Ryan’s pregnant widow, Ashley, said in her eulogy.

“You will live on in baby Ryan and they will know every last detail about how special you were to so many people and, most importantly, to me. I love you forever. I’ll miss you always.”

Jordan’s widow, Annie, stood silently beside police chaplain Roy Langer as he read her parting words.

“We didn’t have one hard day in 11 years,” she said through Langer.

“The world was really ours. We had already started leaving our mark in some many different places.”

The officers were shot at multiple times while responding to a family dispute on March 16. Police said the shooter, 16, then shot and wounded his mother during a struggle for the gun, before shooting and killing himself.

Jordan was remembered by colleagues as a valued officer of almost nine years, working to join the tactical squad. He came to Edmonton from Nova Scotia so he could realize his childhood dream of becoming an officer.

Sgt. Perry Getzinger and Sgt. Chris Gallahger remembered Jordan, or T.J., as a “great dog dad” to canines Teddy and B.J.

They recalled an excellent, ultracompetitive golfer who will live on in happy memories of lost balls and fairway trash talk from their “Birdies and Beers” golf trip.

Brodie Sampson, a childhood friend, said people who knew Jordan “were able to experience (his) kindness, contagious joy and unparalleled positivity even in the face of hardships.”

“(It) gets us through these hard times now,” he added.

Ryan, born in Edmonton, had more than five years’ service with the force after working as a paramedic.

Ashley Ryan recalled life with the man with “a crooked little grin,” who got up in the morning to have coffee and read the news in his fuzzy slippers, “because he was such an old man at heart.”

Her husband, she said, loved skydiving, baseball and their dogs, even the one who chewed up their couch.

Garett Ryan said his older brother loved trips to Las Vegas and Mexico, eating donairs and Baconator burgers. He remembered driving around with his brother, windows down belting out Kenny Chesney country music songs.

“I often called him my big little brother because that’s how much I looked up to him.”

The caskets were brought to Rogers Place in two hearses that inched their way through the downtown from the legislature under bright sun amid chill winds. They were followed by officers from across the country.

They marched eight abreast, arms swinging amid the pipes and drums of interspersed marching bands while onlookers lined the streets. Some held up placards with painted blue hearts, others placed their right hands over their hearts.

“We’re here to support all of the first responders but in particular our son, who is a police officer with Calgary Police Services,” said Jim Funk, who attended the procession with wife, Chris.

“We feel so sad, especially for the families of the two officers, but that extends out to the whole first responder family nationwide.”

Said Chris Funk: “It’s probably the worst nightmare families can experience.”

Two caskets, each draped in a Canadian flag, were carried into the arena on the shoulders of Edmonton police pallbearers.

The service was not open to the public but was livestreamed and broadcast outdoors at the Ice Plaza next to Rogers Place.

Dozens shivered in the cold to watch, including 15-year-old Charlie Dennis, whose father is an Edmonton officer.

“It’s nice to know that there are people around that would care and would show up,” she said.

Police continue to investigate the circumstances of the shooting and have said the same gun was used days earlier at a nearby Pizza Hut, leaving a man injured.

Police had also been called to the teen shooter’s home in November, apprehending him under the Mental Health Act before taking him to hospital for an assessment.

The day of the shooting, the boy’s mother called saying she was having trouble with her son. Police said there was no indication he had a gun or that the officers were walking into a high-risk or dangerous situation.

There have been 10 officers killed in the line of duty in Edmonton.

The most recent previous death was of Const. Daniel Woodall, who was shot in 2015 trying to enter the house of a suspect wanted for criminal harassment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2023.

— With files from Dean Bennett

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Alberta

Japan to resume imports of Canadian processed beef, 20 years after mad cow disease

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OTTAWA — Japan is lifting the last of its restrictions against Canadian beef, 20 years after BSE, often called mad cow disease, devastated this country’s cattle industry. 

The federal government says Japan is reopening its doors to processed beef and beef patties from Canada.

The move puts an end to the market access barriers Japan put in place in 2003, after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, was discovered in Alberta.

While Japan initially shut its border to all Canadian beef, it has been lifting restrictions in stages over the years, most recently with its 2019 decision to begin accepting Canadian beef from cattle older than 30 months of age.

The federal government says Japan is now Canada’s second-largest market for beef, with exports worth $518 million in 2022.

Around 40 countries closed their borders to Canadian beef during the height of the 2003 BSE crisis, resulting in billions of dollars in losses for the industry.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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