Health Minister Doug Currie open to exploring NDP Leader Mike Redmond's suggestion for building
Prince Edward Home
Prince Edward Island NDP Leader Mike Redmond believes the soon-to-be vacated Prince Edward Home could make a good addictions treatment facility, an idea Health Minister Doug Currie says he is open to exploring.
Many Islanders have spoken publicly about their concern over the growing rate of addiction to prescription drugs in P.E.I. and how this is creating extended wait times for detox and rehabilitation programs.
With seniors moving out of the Prince Edward Home in Charlottetown this week into a new facility, Redmond says the old building could potentially be modified to house addiction treatment programs.
“Although it’s out of commission for long-term care, it can be an opportunity for an addictions facility,” Redmond said.
“This is something that is certainly needed in Prince Edward Island. We have so many people who are on waiting lists to get into programs, so there has to be an immediacy in what we’re doing. We need to help families now.”
The rising rate of Islanders, especially youths, becoming addicted to opiates has become a major issue of concern in the province.
The provincial health and social development committee has been hosting meetings on the issue.
Health officials, law enforcement, municipal leaders, community groups and individuals have shared their concerns. Many have identified the sad, dangerous and often tragic consequences of opiate addiction.
Currie said Redmond’s suggestion for the Prince Edward Home is not out of the question, but with residents just vacating the building, it is too soon to say whether it could be a viable option.
“We have been in some very preliminary, light discussions about the facility, but those are the types of conversations that we have every day to find creative ways we can meet the demands and the challenges,” Currie said.
He pointed to the extended age of the facility, calling it “very weathered.” The building is 81 years old.
“But I’ll be honest, we are looking at whether we are using our beds as efficiently as we can in addictions and mental health,” Currie added.
Redmond said he believes it should be explored, especially due to its location in downtown Charlottetown.
Many teens and adults struggling with addiction find it difficult to find the means to travel to the provincial addictions treatment facility in Mount Herbert.
“The Prince Edward Home is a great downtown location which most Islanders would probably approach with some degree of comfort. It is an idea worth pursuing,” Redmond said.
Currie said he would keep this and all ideas he is hearing from Islanders in mind as he puts the finishing touches on his strategy to address the issues identified in the long-awaited mental health and addictions review.
The review and the province’s addictions strategy will be released Nov. 1.
Opposition health critic James Aylward has called on Currie to release it sooner, but Currie said it is a complex plan that has many components.
“There’s some people who think this strategy has been sitting on my desk since the spring, it has not been sitting on my desk,” Currie said.
“The (mental health and addictions review) has been, but we’ve been working on developing a short-term strategy and a longer-term strategy that I’ll be presenting next week to meet some of the immediate pressures but also putting a long-term plan in place.”