New funding announced for Indigenous addictions treatment facility near Edmonton

The Alberta Government has an announced new funding for an Indigenous addictions treatment facility northwest of Edmonton.

Poundmaker's Lodge Treatment Centres in Sturgeon County will receive an extra $1.4 million per year for the next three years.

The funding will create 28 new addiction treatment beds for a men's program and fund seven existing beds in the women's program at the Iskwew Healing Lodge. The funding also includes upgrading for five medically-supported detox beds. 

Poundmaker's Lodge currently has 60 beds, 51 of which are publicly funded. 

The announcement was made Wednesday by Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan and Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Williams.

"We're going to do everything we can to support Albertans to live in a life of recovery," Luan said. "Because getting Albertans into the life of recovery, not only they are getting better for themselves, but their families and communities are also getting better."

The money will equal about 900 recovery spaces over the next three years, Luan said.

Poundmaker's Lodge executive director, Brad Cardinal, says the waitlist for services can be as long as eight months. 

"The work that we do is about saving lives," said Cardinal. "This announcement comes at a critical time in the history of Indigenous peoples, who are dying at four times the rate of others abusing substances."

Earlier this week CBC obtained a letter from Alberta Health that said the Nechi Institute, an Indigenous learning and counselling centre at Poundmaker's Lodge, will have its lease terminated effective March 31 due to expanded program delivery.