June 15th, 2024

Premier, addictions minister attend Recovery Conference

By KENDALL KING on November 10, 2022.

Premier Danielle Smith addressed the Southern Alberta Regional Recovery Conference on Wednesday morning, following her by-election win Tuesday night.--NEWS PHOTO KENDALL KING

kking@medicinehatnews.com

Through in its inaugural year, Our Collective Journey’s two-day Southern Alberta Regional Recovery Conference is already garnering support from professionals and those looking to enhance addiction recovery supports in Medicine Hat and surrounding areas.

The conference, which began Wednesday and closes this afternoon, brings together professionals from southeast Alberta and beyond to speak on and learn about addiction recovery strategies, in particular Alberta’s recovery-oriented systems of care.

“The recovery-orientated system of care is a continuum model the provincial government has rolled out in Alberta,” OCJ director of programming Ryan Oscar, told the News. “And everybody has a different place along that continuum (to help) an individual who’s really struggling get better.”

Professionals at the conference came from a variety of fields and backgrounds including mental health and addictions, physical health and well being, education, judicial and legislative, penal and socio-cultural.

Experts from other regions were also in attendance, including keynote speakers Thomas Wolf, a recovery advocate and recovered addict from San Francisco, and Dr. Johanna O’Flaherty, a trauma and grief recovery psychologist, former Central Recovery Treatment CEO and former Betty Ford Centre Treatment Services vice president.

“We’re bringing all these pieces into Medicine Hat that would never get here otherwise, to share these stories about what’s going on in other places,” said Oscar.

The conference itself is a first of its kind in Medicine Hat and area – inspired by the annual Alberta Recovery Conference held in Calgary.

Despite being in its inaugural year, Oscar says reception to the conference has been overwhelmingly positive, and he is hopeful it will become an annual event.

Approximately 200 professionals were in attendance as the conference began Tuesday morning. As well as several notable government officials, including Premier and Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA-elect Danielle Smith and newly-appointed Mental Health and Addictions Minister Nicholas Milliken, who confirmed their appearance last minute.

Both Smith and Milliken took the stage to share welcoming messages and give endorsement to addictions recovery enhancement efforts – something Smith says she has been a strong proponent of having had a family member struggle with drug addiction.

“Addiction is an illness that destroys individuals, destroys families and destroys communities,” said Smith. “And over several years, we’ve seen the impacts of this in Alberta. We see it in our mid-sized cities increasingly – I’m surprised to see it in Medicine Hat.

“I think that every single day, this kind of approach – the recovery oriented system of care – is saving lives. And it’s changing the trajectory for so many families.”

Throughout her address, Smith touched on several UCP-led addiction recovery initiatives, including funding of 8,000 new treatment spaces and elimination of daily treatment centre user fees. She also promised to continue investing in recovery-oriented systems of care.

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