Mental health and addiction strategy: A top priority for Calgary

Amidst the economic downturn, Calgary has seen a significant increase in the need for mental health and addiction supports. In 2018, a record 746 people in Alberta died due to opioid overdoses and Calgary is the hardest hit city in the province with 271 deaths recorded as of November of that year.

The City has an essential role to play in making Calgary a healthy and safe city for all.

But we can’t do it alone.

“It’s important that we don’t look at mental health and addiction issues in isolation, but rather take a systems approach,” said Raynell McDonough, issue strategist 

with Calgary Neighbourhoods. “This is why The City is convening partners, including the Province, in developing a mental health and addiction strategy for Calgary.”

On July 30, 2018, City Council earmarked up to $25 million for this important initiative. A large portion of that – $15 million – is dedicated to investments focused on prevention. The remaining $10 million is dedicated to innovative approaches resulting from the strategy.

“The City has already started taking action to make a difference. In January we allocated $3 million to 19 agencies aimed at promotion, early intervention and targeted intervention,” said McDonough. “In March, Council approved up to $1 million to address safety concerns in the area surrounding Calgary’s supervised consumption site including programming in Central Memorial Park.”

“Right now we’re engaging with organizations in Calgary that provide mental health and addiction services, community stakeholders and other orders of government to develop a strategy that will improve the lives of Calgarians,” said McDonough. “These partners play a big role. We want a lot of input on the priority areas and where money should be invested. We will also continue to have them at the decision-making table moving forward.”

As Calgarians prepare to vote in the provincial election, YYC Matters highlights the issues facing our city – like the importance of the Province and The City working together to develop the mental health and addiction strategy. Visit for more information on this and other topics of importance to The City.