Charitable Programs

There is a special category of private treatment. It’s called charitable. This means there are fees, but they are not like the higher fees associated with private treatment. The fees are usually no more than a maximum of $5,000 per month. Most of these programs take things like welfare, disability, etc. They usually have fees that range from free to $2,500/month. There are also a handful of programs that are $1,000-$5,000 for 1-2 years. However, it should be noted that more than 90% of these programs are faith-based or have some sort of religious component. This is because church groups are usually the ones fundraising and subsidizing these programs. These programs will require a person to be sober prior to admission. There will be longer waitlists than private treatment, but shorter wait times than public. Typically there is less mental health treatment and more of a focus on the 12 steps and keeping busy (e.g. full days of programming).

Some charitable programs are fully private meaning you pay a fee of $0-$3000/per month. The programs on the lower end of the fee scale rely on donations and benefactors to help offset the cost of providing treatment. Typically these benefactors are faith-based/religious in nature like churches or congregations. Some charitable programs are able to take income subsidies like welfare or a provincial works program, disability or CPP income, medical or employment insurance payments, etc. However, it should be noted that not all charitable programs can accept income subsidies. Some charitable programs offer reduced fees like $1,000 a year in exchange for work. Again, the programs that offer this tend to be more religious in nature.

When you pay less you typically get less. There likely will not be daily counselling sessions when you pay $2.73 a day ($1,000 yearly). You won’t be eating 5-star meals and working out with a trainer at a fancy gym. Charitable programs rely on things like structure, routine, and order to help a person recover. They try to help them establish habits of a “normal” life. Some charitable programs will take you to off-site meetings of their or your choosing. You may also be able to continue seeking counselling services with your local mental health and substance use office, but not all facilities offer this.


  • Less expensive than private treatment programs
  • Shorter waitlists
  • Long term care (usually 90+ days – 5 years)
  • Life-skills based
  • Provides access to a supportive community
  • Typically gender-separate


  • Often requires a prescription for faith-based activities such as bible study, church, and prayer (may be hard for someone who doesn’t follow that faith)
  • Age restrictions to 19-40 years of age (not all, but most charitable options have age restrictions)
  • Little to no mental health support if you are struggling with underlying mental health conditions (mental health prescriptions may be restricted as well)
  • Usually do not support the use of opiate replacement medications like methadone/methadose/suboxone.
  • Typically gender-separate

Charitable Treatment Programs in Canada

Programs like Teen Challenge, John Volken Academy (the only non 12 step charitable treatment program in Canada), Servants Anonymous, and the Salvation Army offer treatment.

To find more programs in Canada that are charitable, visit and browse the directory or call the hotline.

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