Alberta Introduces New Organizations to Oversee Mental Health and Addiction Services

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The Alberta government has unveiled its strategy to revamp Alberta Health Services by introducing two new organizations dedicated to managing mental health and addiction services. The first entity, Recovery Alberta, is tasked with taking over the delivery of these crucial services currently provided by AHS. The transition of operations from AHS to Recovery Alberta is expected to occur by July 1 following the enactment of relevant legislation. Additionally, the province plans to establish the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence (CORE), a Crown corporation aimed at constructing recovery-oriented care systems by studying global best practices, analyzing data, and offering evidence-based recommendations.

The creation of these two organizations marks a significant step towards transforming the healthcare system in Alberta, according to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. The move is part of a larger initiative to divide AHS into four distinct agencies with specialized focuses on primary care, acute care, continuing care, and mental health and addiction care. However, the restructuring has raised concerns among some stakeholders, with the United Nurses of Alberta expressing apprehension about the potential impact on employees and the need for detailed planning to navigate the transition smoothly.

Kym Kaufmann, a former deputy minister of mental health and community wellness in Manitoba, has been appointed as the CEO of CORE, while Kerry Bales, currently serving as the chief program officer for addiction and mental health within AHS, will lead Recovery Alberta. Both CEOs are currently in negotiations regarding their compensation, which is anticipated to align with similar positions in public organizations of comparable size. The province aims to ensure that the transition does not lead to changes in terms and conditions of employment for staff, emphasizing continuity in services for patients and clients throughout the restructuring process.