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Statement from the Mayor

Mayor Johnston clarifies City’s role in decision about OPS transition

February 8, 2023 9:50 PM
(Red Deer, Alberta)

With the Province’s decision to transition local overdose prevention services (OPS) from locally run services to an AHS-run mobile site, there have been many conversations occurring in our community and with local media. As such, I want to clarify some of the information being shared.

The City of Red Deer and Province of Alberta have been talking about the broad issue of OPS and how to improve the issues we have been experiencing in our city. Additionally, we have been talking with the provincial government about a permanent provision of shelter for several years, and that conversation is ongoing. Without question, these topics and conversations are interconnected in some ways, and over the last several months, we have had extensive conversations with provincial staff and ministers.

Recently, during briefings with the Province, we were informed of the intention to transition operations of the OPS from Turning Point to Alberta Health Services. While we did not have the chance to hold a formal discussion on this issue at a City Council meeting, which is what my most recent comments intended to portray, this was not a fault of the provincial government. They provided us with a formal letter asking for Council to debate and vote on this issue. Unfortunately, we were unable to proceed with our normal processes after the information became public ahead of the Province’s request for our decision.

The plan laid out by the Province is strong. It ensures the continued services of harm reduction in a professional, compassionate, and accountable way. While how this situation has played out has not been ideal, especially for the affected staff at Turning Point, myself and my council colleagues are optimistic about the path forward.

We appreciate the continued work of the provincial government and our local MLAs, and look forward to working with Turning Point, AHS and the province to ensure a smooth transition of operations for the OPS. I believe this will have a positive overall impact on our community.

For more information, please contact:

The Office of the Mayor
The City of Red Deer

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