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Alberta

Province removes cost for residential addiction treatment

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From the Province of Alberta

Removing financial barriers to addiction treatment

Alberta’s government has eliminated user fees for all Albertans accessing publicly funded addiction treatment beds.

Historically, Albertans were charged a $40 per day user fee for residential addiction treatment, often paid for privately or covered by Alberta Supports. This change, for example, would save patients participating in 60-day publicly funded residential addiction treatment roughly $2,400 that they would have paid out of pocket.

This cost prohibited many Albertans from accessing residential addiction treatment, including students, senior citizens, and people in the workforce who make too much to qualify for Income Support, but not enough to pay privately.

“For the first time in Alberta’s history, publicly funded addiction treatment will be extended to all Albertans. Previously, people struggling with addiction could only access residential addiction treatment if they received Alberta Supports or paid privately. We are giving all Albertans – regardless of their financial situation – the opportunity to recover and build a better life. Recovery is for everyone.”

Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

This change drastically expands access to residential addiction treatment for all Albertans, transforming the system to make treatment accessible to everyone.

“It’s hard to see people who need treatment have to make difficult decisions about how to pay for it. Improving access so that people can get the help they need, without worrying about the financial cost, will change people’s lives, especially during a time of economic uncertainty. This will help Albertans get the support they need now and into the future.”

Kim Turgeon, executive director, Aventa

“Over the years that PEP has supported family recovery, we have heard numerous stories of life-time savings being depleted and homes being re-mortgaged to provide for a loved one’s step into treatment and recovery. The financial strain also impacts the family’s health and wellness in too many ways to mention. The magnitude of this shift in access and support to Albertans is huge.”

Lerena Greig, executive director, Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Society

In lieu of requiring user fees from Albertans, the Alberta government has introduced a new standardized funding program for licensed agencies providing publicly funded addiction treatment services. This will result in better outcomes for Albertans as well as more consistent and stable funding for operators.

Albertans struggling with addiction can contact the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322 for support, information and referral to services. The toll-free, confidential helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Quick facts

  • The elimination of user fees applies only to Albertans accessing publicly funded addiction treatment beds.
  • The RATA supports were accessed by clients in the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and Income Support programs.
  • The RATA benefit was previously accessed by about 200 AISH and 2,500 Income Support clients each year.
  • In 2019, Alberta’s government licensed all treatment providers under the Mental Health Services Protection Act.
  • Last year, the provincial government announced $140 million over four years to enhance the mental health and addiction care system and treat 4,000 more individuals.
  • Alberta’s Recovery Plan provides a total of $25 million in capital funding to build five recovery communities across the province. The five recovery communities will add 400 publicly funded treatment beds to the province, which will have the potential to help more than 3,200 Albertans over two years.

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Alberta

WestJet extends temporary suspension of international sun flights until June

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CALGARY — WestJet says it will extend its temporary suspension of international sun flights to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean until June 4.

Canadian airlines in January suspended all flights to sun destinations until April 30 at the request of the federal government. 

WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims said in a release that it made the decision with the clear expectation that as more Canadians are vaccinated, government policy will change.

He says guests with affected itineraries will be notified of the cancellations.

WestJet says since Nov. 1, 2020, it has been providing refunds for all travellers where WestJet initiated flight cancellations.

Sims says WestJet continues to advocate for the replacement of mandatory hotel quarantines with a testing regime that is equitable and consistent with global standards at all points of entry into Canada.

“Alongside an accelerated and successful vaccine rollout, this policy transition will support the safe restart of travel and help stimulate the Canadian economy, where one in ten jobs are tourism-related,” he said Tuesday.

“A safe travel-restart framework is the most effective way to support those interests and restore jobs.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Canada's world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

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CALGARY — Canada’s world champions in beach volleyball are amping up preparations for the Summer Olympics coming over the horizon.

The COVID-19 pandemic kept Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., and Toronto’s Melissa Humana-Paredes apart and docked from competition for much of 2020.

The Canadian duo plans to compete in at least five tournaments over the next two months starting Thursday in Cancun, Mexico.

The world governing body of volleyball, FIVB, created a hub of three straight World Tour events in Cancun to afford teams the chance to qualify for the Tokyo Summer Games opening July 23.

Pavan and Humana-Paredes booked their Tokyo berth when they won the women’s world title in 2019. 

The upcoming tournaments, however, are crucial game reps for a duo that’s short on them.

“I think Cancun will be a real test for us against every team because it is such a lengthy event, to see where we’re really at,” Pavan told The Canadian Press.

“Other teams are scrambling to accumulate points. Obviously we want to win every tournament we play . . . but to be able to take a very objective approach and just see it as information gathering for Tokyo is definitely a luxury.

“We are able to use all of these events to gather information both on ourselves and the things we need to get better at, but also on tactics teams are using against us, or improvements or changes they may have made during COVID.”

Toronto’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson also in the Cancun women’s field have essentially qualified for Tokyo based on their FIVB Olympic provisional ranking of sixth.

Canada can send a maximum of two teams in each gender, but the men have some work to do this spring.

Samuel Pedlow of Barrie, Ont., and Sam Schacter of Richmond Hill, Ont., rank just outside the top 18 in the provisional rankings. 

Calgary’s Ben Saxton and Toronto’s Grant O’Gorman are also trying to qualify.

Pavan, 34, and Humana-Paredes, 28, aren’t facing qualification pressure, but they want to recover their game form in the upcoming tournaments.

“Do I think we’re playing at the level that we need to be in July? Absolutely not,” Pavan said. 

“I don’t think we’re performing at a gold-medal level right now, but fortunately we still have a few months to be able to hit our stride.”

The duo intends to compete in World Tour events in Sochi, Russia in May and Ostrava, Czech Republic in early June. 

They’re also contemplating another tournament in Gstaad, Switzerland in early July to avoid six weeks without a match heading into Tokyo.

Pavan lives in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Canada’s requirement of a 14-day quarantine for travellers arriving outside the country was a barrier to the teammates crossing the border to practise together.

Neither woman felt she could afford the deconditioning that happens during two weeks of isolation too many times.

Humana-Paredes headed to California on Jan. 2 to join her teammate and stayed there. She doesn’t expect to return to Canada until after the Olympic Games conclude Aug. 8.

“I won’t be able to go home until after Tokyo,” Humana-Paredes said. “That’s the mindset I’ve had to come to terms with.  For the majority of the time, I’m in a good head space and happy to be able to train and be with my team and continue to get better. 

“Sometimes I miss by people back home and than can weigh on me a little sometimes. Last summer was so difficult because there was so much uncertainty.  We do have a schedule to look forward to, a routine and things we can plan for and the Olympics are still on.”

Her boyfriend, Connor Braid of Victoria, is a member of Canada’s rugby sevens team bound for Tokyo.

Pavan and Humana-Paredes finished second in the Katara Beach World Cup in Doha, Qatar on March 12 in their first major international competition in 18 months.

The field didn’t include all of the world’s best teams, said Pavan, but the result was important for the Canadians’ confidence.

“We had signed up for the event, but we didn’t feel ready and we actually made the final decision to go a week before the event,” Pavan said. 

“We were unsure, but we decided to just use it as a measuring stick. There were some teams that weren’t there, but to be able to fight through that event while not being as crisp as we’re used to was good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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