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Alberta proposes formal standards for addictions, youth counsellors

Sarah Hoffman, Alberta Minister of Health, responds to a reporter's question at a press conference during the Conferences of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health in Winnipeg, Thursday, June 28, 2018. Alberta is proposing to adopt formal rules and standards for a range of counsellors, including addiction therapists and those helping children and youth. The changes are part of a bill introduced in the house by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.
Sarah Hoffman, Alberta Minister of Health, responds to a reporter's question at a press conference during the Conferences of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health in Winnipeg, Thursday, June 28, 2018. Alberta is proposing to adopt formal rules and standards for a range of counsellors, including addiction therapists and those helping children and youth. The changes are part of a bill introduced in the house by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Alberta is proposing to adopt formal rules and standards for a range of counsellors, including addiction therapists and those helping children and youth.

The proposed changes were introduced in the legislature by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.

READ MORE: Study shows how costly substance abuse is in Alberta

The government estimates there are about 5,000 such counsellors in Alberta, and says right now they don’t need any formal training to set up a business.

Hoffman says people looking for help need to know they are getting safe, competent care.

READ MORE: Accessibility is key for youth struggling with mental health: U of C

The proposed legislation would also increase requirements for residential addiction treatment facilities.

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If the bill passes, the province would have the power to enforce minimum standards and address complaints at such centres.

The changes would kick in starting in the middle of 2019.

READ MORE: Alberta announces $5M grant to support mental health in schools

“This bill aims to ensure that Albertans are able to access professional mental health care in safe, regulated environments,” Hoffman told the house Tuesday as she introduced the bill for first reading.

“Our goal is peace of mind for patients, for their families and for all Albertans.”

The province estimates that one in five Albertans will use addiction and mental health services in their lifetime.

Counselling services are offered in public and private facilities, and the province says two-thirds of those clinics are privately operated.