Alberta Health Services tried to reassure the Edmonton Police Commission last night that the closure of mental-health beds at Alberta Hospital Edmonton won’t affect policing.
AHS recently announced the closure of 246 beds at Alberta Hospital Edmonton over the next three years. AHS plans to move some patients into community-based environments as services become available — a move that the commission worries will further strain policing resources.
“We have a fundamental problem that will go through to the streets,” said Commissioner Dennis Anderson.
Mark Snaterse, executive director of Addiction and Mental Health for AHS, told the commission that not one bed would move without adequate support systems in place.
“When this process is done properly, it doesn’t result in increased criminalization,” said Snaterse.
Tom Shand, chair of the Alberta Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, said that if patients don’t receive adequate treatment, “many will have their mental health deteriorate to the point where they will put extra pressure on social services.”
Shand said he doesn’t believe AHS has done enough planning or allocated enough resources yet to pull off the transition successfully.