A new navigation and support centre is now open to help those removed from encampments find safe shelter and access support.
Encampments are high-risk environments that victimize and jeopardize the health and safety of those in them. They are not safe places for anyone to live or sleep.
Since November, the provincial government’s Edmonton Public Safety Cabinet Committee (EPSCC), including the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Police Service, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, Grand Chief Cody Thomas from the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations and Alberta Health Services, has been working with partners to develop a response that will promote public safety and provide services to people staying in these tents.
Alberta’s government has opened a new navigation and support centre to provide targeted help to Alberta’s most vulnerable who are staying in encampments. Staff at the centre will provide Indigenous cultural support and liaisons and connect people to shelter, housing and financial services, as well as help individuals obtain valid Alberta identification.
Additionally, Radius Health, along with Alberta Health Services, will be on site to provide a variety of health and recovery-oriented services to those who need them, including the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program that provides immediate, same-day access to life-saving addiction treatment medication for people in addiction. This program is now available 24-7 for Albertans currently living in or moving into the shelter system.
“We understand the issue of homeless encampments goes beyond the immediate need for shelter spaces. Our goal is to get vulnerable people into much safer environments where they can access a range of supports, including mental health and addiction treatment, primary health care and income support.”
Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services
“Encampments have turned into gang-run drug camps that promote drug dealing, human trafficking, crime and violence towards vulnerable Albertans. They are not safe places to sleep and live. We will not sit idly by and allow our streets to be overrun by gangs. This government will do whatever it takes to protect Albertans.”
Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services
“It is not compassionate or responsible to allow our city’s most vulnerable to continue living in conditions that are inherently dangerous, exposing them to violence, crime and further victimization. I am encouraged to see so many action-oriented organizations come together for real solutions, ones that bring services together in an integrated manner to support individuals and ensure the safety and security of those who have been living in and around encampments. These are the actions that promote safer communities for all.”
Dale McFee, chief, Edmonton Police Service
The navigation centre will be open for intake Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in line with the Edmonton Police Service encampment removals. Services and staff will be available 24-7 for individuals registered and using the centre.
Free transportation will be provided by the City of Edmonton to help individuals staying in encampments access the centre, and a local organization will be on site to help care for people’s pets.
“I’m thankful for the joint action between the province and the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations. More vulnerable Albertans, including First Nations people, will have access to the supports they need to make real changes in their lives. I’m relieved that the new centre will offer cultural supports and liaisons and recovery services on site.”
Grand Chief Cody Thomas, Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nation
Alberta’s government is helping connect vulnerable people with appropriate housing and wraparound supports, including addiction treatment and mental health services. More than $75 million in funding has been provided to support homelessness initiatives in Edmonton, including for Indigenous-led housing providers. Provincial funding also provides 24-7 access to Edmonton’s more than 1,700 emergency spaces.
The centre will be evaluated every 30 days to gauge the effectiveness of the program and its services. This temporary physical space will become a permanent model in Alberta’s response to support vulnerable people. Come spring, the navigation centre will turn into a 100-bed women-only shelter to provide targeted services for vulnerable women.
“All levels of government need to partner and come together to prioritize safe shelter and supports for First Nations people. When communities work together, we can begin the steps into healing and recovery.”
Chief Wilton Littlechild
“The most compassionate thing a government can do is offer support to those most vulnerable, living in what have become gang-run drug camps, facing homelessness and suffering from the deadly disease of addiction. This expansion of detox and treatment is making recovery possible, which is a critical piece of building the Alberta Recovery Model.”
Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction
Provincially funded shelter operators in Edmonton include:
E4C (Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre)
Enoch Cree Nation
Elizabeth Fry Society
The Mustard Seed
NiGiNan Housing Ventures
Operation Friendship Seniors Society
The Salvation Army