Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer says his ministry pushing for what is called a “Drug Treatment Court” to start operating in Grande Prairie. The 12-18th month program requires participants to plead guilty to a drug-related charge before attending any inpatient treatment.
They then submit weekly reports to a judge, while being subjected to random drug tests and doing community service. Similar programs are already in place in places like Calgary and Edmonton, and one was recently announced for Lethbridge.
The four-part program includes lengthy, and in-depth sections like intensive treatment, developing recovery skills and community transition. Officials believe it also helps break any potential cycles of crime or relapse, as participants must also obtain approved housing and employment before graduating.
Schweitzer says the next natural step outside of the two major urban centres would be cities the size of Grande Prairie.
“I’d like to see it expanded to at least all of our mid-sized centres across the province, and right now we’re looking at and working closely to get, one established in the Grande Prairie area.”
Schweitzer adds the program is an extra layer of service aimed at helping those looking to escape an addiction lifestyle. He believes working in collaboration with the courts and other service providers help ensure it’s successful.
“You work largely with the provincial and federal Crown, probation [officers], police, and the judiciary to make sure it has the supports required.”
No timeline has been provided as to when the service could begin operating in the Peace Country. The first drug court program opened in Edmonton in 2005.