Edmonton

Government eliminates user fees for Albertans seeking addictions treatment

The provincial government announced Friday morning that the $40-per-day user fee to access publicly-funded residential treatment beds — or, $2,400 for 60 days of therapy — has been eliminated. 

$40-per-day fee could be a barrier to seeking treatment at publicly-funded facilities

Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, said removing user fees will increase access to addictions treatment for all Albertans. (Audrey Neveu/CBC)

Albertans will no longer have to pay out-of-pocket to receive treatment for addictions.

The provincial government announced Friday morning that the $40-per-day user fee to access publicly-funded residential treatment beds — or, $2,400 for 60 days of therapy — has been eliminated. 

"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, stated in the news release.

Low-income Albertans already had their costs for treatment covered by the government.

According to the news release, the Residential Addiction Treatment Allowance (RATA), provided through the Alberta Supports program, paid for the treatment of about 2,700 individuals, including about 200 recipients of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program.

The change, the release said, will make residential addiction treatment available for "students, senior citizens, and people in the workforce who make too much to qualify for Income Support, but not enough to pay privately."

There are 73 treatment facilities in Alberta. According to a government spokesperson, there are 566 publicly funded beds for residential addiction treatment. 

The government does not have data on how many individuals are currently paying out-of-pocket.

The news release did not include any indication of how many Albertans on average pay for treatment out of pocket, but noted that the cost could have been a barrier to even seeking help.

"It's hard to see people who need treatment have to make difficult decisions about how to pay for it," Kim Turgeon, executive director of Aventa, a Calgary treatment centre, stated in the release.

"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."

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