On February 3, the provincial government and the City of Red Deer announced that Turning Point Society would be transferring operations to Alberta Health Services. During the announcement Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston also apologized for how the staff of Turning Point learned of the transition.
“I also want to extend a formal apology to Turning Point and the service providers in our community who learned about transition after overhearing one of our City Council members talking with a provincial colleague about it in the community. We know this is unacceptable, and for that we apologize,” added Johnston in his original statement.
That same afternoon, Turning Point society provided a statement regarding the transition.
“We will continue to provide the highest standard of service delivery throughout this possible transitional period to reduce the impact community members face,” said Turning Point Society Executive Director, Stacey Carmichael in Turning Point’s statement. “We were surprised by this decision and are still unsure of its rationale.”
Yesterday evening, Mayor Ken Johnston provided an additional statement to clarify the issue. You can read the latest statement below:
“The City of Red Deer and Province of Alberta have been talking about the broad issue of OPS (overdose prevention services) 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.”