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Province injects $53M more into mental health for COVID response

Premier Kenney announced $53 million in additional funding for various mental health and addiction supports as the province's COVID-19 caseload rose to just under 2,000 on Wednesday.
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Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a press conference Wednesday.


  • Alberta’s Mental Health Helpline is available 24-7 toll-free and offers confidential support for mental health concerns: 1-877-303-2642.
  • Alberta’s Addiction Helpline is available 24-7 toll-free and offers confidential support for alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and problem gambling: 1-866-332-2322
  • The Kids Help Phone is available 24-7 and offers professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people by texting CONNECT to 686868.
  • The Crisis Text Line Alberta is a service available 24-7 that offers information, referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support for Albertans of all ages, by texting CONNECT to 741741.
  • Alberta 211 is a free helpline that connects Albertans to community and social services in their area 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in over 150 languages.

Albertans’ mental health is more important than ever and the provincial government is putting up extra funding to prove it.

On Wednesday, Premier Jason Kenney announced an additional injection of $53 million into various mental health and addiction supports to help people cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of us now, from time to time and in varying degrees, have been, I'm sure, suffering emotionally and psychologically from these extremely trying circumstances. On top of all of that, many Albertans are out of work and facing real anxiety about their financial security,” he said during the province’s daily COVID-19 press conference.

Preceded at the podium by Associate Minister for Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan with his own messages of mental health well-wishing, Kenney said, “Our message to Albertans today, especially to those feeling psychologically or emotionally overwhelmed, is that help is available.”

The $53-million boost is on top of the $140 million of additional spending that the government began to implement last year for mental health services and addiction programs, he explained, noting it far surpasses any such supports across the country.

“This is by far the largest investment in mental health support for people coping with the pandemic in Canada. In fact, the $53 million additional investment that we're announcing today is more than all of the other provinces’ COVID-19 mental health responses combined times two. This is by orders of magnitude the largest investment in supporting mental health and responding to addictions at this very tough time.

The province is investing $21.4 million to improve access to phone and online supports with existing helplines, including the Addiction Helpline, the Mental Health Helpline, the Kids Help Phone and the Community and Social Services Helpline (Alberta 211).

The new funding also includes

  • $2.6 million to expand individual and group treatment to address family violence, addiction and mental health for Albertans
  • $4.2 million to expand the addiction and mental health support available through Primary Care Networks
  • $25 million for a new community grant program to enhance community mental health and addiction recovery for the public, including Indigenous communities, seniors, families and people experiencing social barriers, who are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further spending will contribute to online resources that are available to all Albertans in supporting those people who may not be able to access face-to-face services, including those in self-isolation or those in rural locations.

“It’s important that Albertans in all corners of the province have access to the mental health and addiction supports they need. These resources will help address the needs of children, youth and adults, and we will continue to work with our partners across the mental health and addiction sector to find innovative ways to support Albertans in need, both now and after the pandemic is behind us,” Luan said.

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