Currie questioned on $1M unspent last year on addictions, mental health

Teresa Wright
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Health Minister Doug Currie speaks at a rally Tuesday evening calling for more addiction services. With him is Premier Robert Ghiz.

Less than 24-hours after 100 Islanders held a tearful rally for more addictions services, Health Minister Doug Currie faced questions about why he left $1 million unspent in his addictions and mental health budget last year.

Opposition MLA James Aylward asked Currie today how he would explain this unspent money to family members of addicted Islanders who shared their difficult stories on the steps of Province House last evening.

“He’s not utilizing $773,100 in addictions services, he’s not utilizing $219,300 in community mental health,” Aylward said.

“It’s not this house you have to explain it to, it’s the thousands of people struggling with addictions and mental health that you have to come clean with. Minister, how do you explain leaving $1 million on the table to the families who stood on the front steps of Province House last night begging for more support?”

Currie defended his record on actions taken to address the growing epidemic of addiction, notably involving prescription drugs in P.E.I.

But as for specifics of why this money was not spent, he said the question would be better raised during the time in the legislature when his department’s budget is examined line by line.

“We were clear on Nov. 1, we sent a strong message to Islanders that the challenge and the new face of addictions and the access to services in addictions and mental health is a priority,” Currie said.

He alluded to new investments that will soon be announced on this file, on the recommendations of the province’s chief mental health and addictions officer, Dr. Rhonda Matters.

“We will be announcing more initiatives and more announcements to continue to address the needs of Islanders and improving access in various areas of mental health and addictions, keeping in mind mental health and addictions is a very important area, but we also have other demanding pressure points in our health-care system that also need attention.”

But Aylward continued to press Currie on how he could have left $1 million unspent in his budget last year while talking so much about addictions and mental health being priorities.

“How do you explain leaving $1 million on the table to the mothers and fathers of this Island who lie awake at night wondering if their son or daughter, who is struggling with addictions, will make it home tonight?”

Organizations: Province House

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • ridiculous
    April 17, 2014 - 16:03

    Personally I think that money goes to the wrong place, we need the money to go to things that matter like this than 2014 events to better promote the island for tourism... Islanders should be put before tourists. Another thing, even with the limited amount of services on the island I don't think they can offer the help one truly needs when they go seek help. & I think the people need to be more educated in mental health and addictions before this improves..

    • tourism
      April 17, 2014 - 19:20

      What tourist want ti come here not only is it expensive which you would think some where they havevall inclusive packages that would make it affordable. Not only that charlottetown is an eyesore compared to seven years ago full of pan handlers .graffitti and every picnic bench empty needles from Iv users .Building vacant or under repair . More patios! when you feel gulity about having a meal because thrre people with signs every corner with signs they hungry and have no boundry of asking you for change while you eating out doors .No bus system past 930 pm and none on holidays or sundays . If people say to me oh id love to come to PEI .I says dont bother you wasting your money compared to halifax or a more exciting town than this dump . it is an eye sore and Im embarrassed to say I live here .I plan on moving soon ! CANT WAIT !

  • Jan Roach
    April 17, 2014 - 08:00

    Now James you're on the right track. These things matter more than a $16. room upgrade.

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    April 17, 2014 - 06:56

    Doug Currie and Valerie Dockerty no doubt were told to trim some spare cash from their budgets to help poor Wes out of the sticky spot he's in . Wes has to gather up that 25 million that he wasn't allowed to count twice some were . It's just smoke an mirrors people got to make old Wes look good an get that budget balanced . They can't raise fees or taxes any higher so they have to start stealing it from other Departments . You will see more of this yet .

    • Parent
      April 17, 2014 - 07:53

      Either that or more likely, there will be some "big" announcement in both the areas of social services and addiction/mental health of additional funding... before the next election... and we will all be so bedazzled at the kindness and the compassion of this government towards people in need and we will all forget about the last 8 years of incompetency and vote for them!

  • get with the program
    April 16, 2014 - 21:36

    You might as well forget that anything is going to be done .If you have private health insurance or committ a crime and require a phycological assessment be for your court date . or have a custody dispute that requires a home study you may get acess to mental health services faster . Even then with private insurance my own experiance was a 10 month wait to see a psychiatrist and psycological therapy .for major depression episode .. Other that a persription there was no other treatment of occupational programs available .sat at home in chair looking out the window about 10 months there no beds so as long as I could get from one room to another and make a sandwhich and tea I figured I was doing okay .waiting to get to see someone was torture and it set back treatment that could have been sooner than later .

  • Gman
    April 16, 2014 - 20:08

    I really am starting to believe most islanders live under a rock. This province is bankrupt and islanders expect more services!? Be prepared to live with a lot less! Wes Sheridan ruined this province by spending us into oblivion. People are leaving here like rats off a sinking ship. There's only 2 ways this situation is going - either services will be cut even more than they already have been OR taxes will go up even more. An aging population costs money and the tax base is eroding rapidly. How do islanders expect more services with less money? The days of PEI standing on the corner with its hand out are over, the west is in charge now and they don't like the east taking all their money. This isn't the '80s anymore with Quebec & Ontario filtering all the money from the west to feed eastern coffers. Hope you guys are all healthy and have deep pockets 'cause you'll be paying for Wes Sheridan's drunken spending the rest of your lives...

    • GetReal
      April 17, 2014 - 09:26

      I think you must live under a rock. Improving the lives of those on social services and those who have a mental disability or suffer from an addiction saves money in the long run. What the people of PEI deserve is a government that is smart enough to figure out. Look how many children are in foster care because of the addiction issue... do you think that is free? Are there no costs associated with addiction related crimes? The cost to keep a person in jail vastly outweighs the cost of treating that person. No one wants a hand out but the money was budgetted for a specific purpose and it should have been used for that purpose. For Currie and Dockerty to do other was completely irresponsible and both of these people should lose their cabinet postings. This has nothing to do with east vs west. Currie and Dockerty are both irresponsible in their management of their portfolios. Ghiz allowed it and continues to allow it. The island is in crisis and the funds were there to mitigate it and they CHOOSE to allow islanders and their families to struggle and suffer.

  • Marie
    April 16, 2014 - 18:02

    Are these jokers not accountable to ANYONE?? Our disabled are locked up for months in hospitals where they don't belong and the answer is always "no funding". Addicts spend a couple of days in the hospital or Mt Hubert and these fools think they're cured. Can our Minister of Health distinguish between the disabled and drug addiction??? They aren't even close or comparable. One is by birth; the other by bad choices. Yet this government can't help either!!!

  • voter
    April 16, 2014 - 17:28

    Aylward makes on he still doesn,t know the answer to his question----------- this money should have been used ----- -there is only one reason why currie money was not spent !! answer - he's a politician doing what his superiors told him to do !!! --don't trust any politician-- a liberal , a conservative - whatever face they want to show -they're all hollow puppets

  • voter
    April 16, 2014 - 17:24

    Aylward makes on he still doesn,t know the answer to his question----------- this money should have been used ----- -there is only one reason why currie money was not spent !! answer - he's a politician doing what his superiors told him to do !!! --don't trust any politician-- a liberal , a conservative - whatever face they want to show -they'sre all stringed puppets

  • David
    April 16, 2014 - 17:18

    The PC party is suggesting the province should be spending more money. The PC party. Remember this when they come back a couple of years from now during an election talking about "overspending" and living within our means. The PC party is in shambles. They can't even keep a methodology going.

  • SoDepressing
    April 16, 2014 - 17:13

    This speaks volumes.... and it also removes any shred of hope that this man will ever do a thing to provide help in the areas of addiction and mental health. He really does not care even the tiniest bit about improving the situation on PEI. And... Robert Ghiz would have been very much aware of this. It is no doubt an election ploy... so that some bit announcement of "new" funding could be bragged about... just like the ten "new" beds at Mt. Herbert!

  • Parent
    April 16, 2014 - 16:58

    2 million in social services unspent and 1 million in mental health and addictions... geez do Doug Currie and Valerie Dockerty evn live in Prince Edward Island? I am really beginning to think that both of these people need to get some sort of treatment for their disorder... they are blind to Islanders' needs, deaf to Islanders' voices and just plain dumb!

    • as well
      April 16, 2014 - 22:23

      Im sure they do lunch poolside buffets . Discuss us underprivleged islanders. There less on social assistance because no one can live here and they all flying out west to get a better life no one that has ever left were sorry for it .

  • Why so much suufering
    April 16, 2014 - 16:53

    Aylward is right families are suffering.....for 2014 celebrations??//forGHIZ......for politics????why ...people are dying..why?

  • frustrated
    April 16, 2014 - 16:39

    How about us children with parents who fight mental health issues, while still trying to end their lives, and our hospital keeps them over night until they are "medically" not mentally cleared then let them go... I've been dealing with this two and a half years now with the most recent being just last night, yet our medical physicians have no care. Theres no hope on this island and its sickening.