The P.E.I. legislative committee spent Wednesday listening to heartfelt stories about why the province needs to do more to help people with addictions.

The committee will hold three days of hearings this week. Wednesday, they met with people in Summerside including George Dalton.

Dalton was an addiction councillor with the Canadian military and he’s still involved in counselling in Summerside.

“When these young people don’t get tapped into immediate aftercare, we’re just wasting our money,” he said.

'What we're hearing from parents and people in families is addictions are robbing our children' - Olive Crane

He advised the committee to use an existing resource — Alcoholic Anonymous groups.

"What I see here in the Island is that there's a divide of some sort, that they don't want the AA groups in the treatment centres. Some kind of a power struggle, whatever. You bring those AA groups into the treatment centres, and I guarantee you, they'll look after people."

The committee also heard about other effects of addiction. Ann Christopher described how her 83-year-old father was beaten and robbed by addicts. 

"He's sick,” she said. “And to go into his home and beat up an 83-year-old man black and blue and steal everything that he has - even his paperwork - all his stuff that he had put away for his time."

Margaret MacKay described the ongoing harassment of living in a neighbourhood where she says drugs were sold.

"For the last 20 years, we've had pretty well a drug problem in our area most the time,” MacKay said. “It's been predominantly prescription drugs that have been the problem."

Strategy expected

The MLAs have also met with people behind closed doors to hear their stories about young people desperate for drugs. 

"One day they're excellent students, 80s, 90s,” said Liberal MLA Richard Brown, a member of the committee. “And the next day they're down to 37, repeating grades and their only objective in life is their next fix."

Progressive Conservative MLA Olive Crane said the stories were powerful to hear.

"I'll tell you as a parent, if my child had cancer, I would go to the highest mountain on earth to get treatment,” she said. “What we're hearing from parents and people in families is addictions are robbing our children."

Once the hearings are complete, Health Minister Doug Currie is expected to present a province-wide addiction strategy in a matter of weeks.