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Alberta finds millions for kids’ care, ignores crisis in public system

Government won’t commit to reopening public centre or hiring staff

May 10, 2024

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EDMONTON – The Alberta government has found $98 million to build three private residential facilities for children with complex mental health challenges, but refuses to find money for struggling public services, says AUPE.  

“We are happy to see the government committing resources to care for children,” says Sandra Azocar, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).  

“If it can find money for new non-profit facilities, why won’t it commit to reopening the youth-treatment centre in High Prairie? Why does it leave the department of Children and Family Services so short-staffed that it can’t provide timely assessments for children at risk?” 

The Campus Based Treatment Centre in High Prairie has been closed since a fire in November.  

“Children are being ripped from their families and community to an area where they know no one. These are children that no other agency will accept and who are at high risk of ending up on the streets,” says Azocar. 

The government has told AUPE that the centre will not reopen in the “foreseeable future.” It has sent a different message to the to the community, saying the future of the centre is being studied. 

The commitment of $98 million to build residential facilities in Calgary, Fort McMurray and at an undecided location in southern Alberta raises questions. 

  • If there’s money to expand the services offered by CASA Mental Health, why is there no money for existing public services? 

  • With a shortage of mental-health professionals, where will the government find staff? 

  • After the government has spent $98 million to build three facilities, who will own them? Will the government retain ownership of the buildings and the land?   

“CASA Mental Health does amazing work,” says Azocar. “But the question remains: If there’s money for these programs, why is there no money to address the crisis in the public children’s care system?” 


AUPE VP Sandra Azocar is available for interviews. 

Please contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, at or 780-863-7850. 

News Category

  • Media release

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