Addictions facility underused, says Opposition

P.E.I. could be getting better use out of a youth addictions facility in New Brunswick, say the opposition Progressive Conservatives.

P.E.I. could be getting better use of a youth addictions facility in New Brunswick, says the Tory opposition health critic.

Tory health critic James Aylward says the health minister was receptive to the idea of a contract with Portage. (CBC)

P.E.I. has no residential facility dedicated to the treatment of addiction in young people. P.E.I.'s own addictions treatment centre opened two years ago, called the Strength program. That program runs in eight-week sessions. Youth spend their evenings off-site at a boarding house. On weekends, they go home to their families.

Under its current arrangement with Portage Atlantic, near Sussex, N.B., the province can rent up to four beds on a per diem basis. The facility gives care 24/7 for up to six months.

The province says there's no need to send more young people to Portage Atlantic, because anyone who needs to go there, does. Every year about 12 people from P.E.I. to go to the facility.

Health critic James Aylward recently toured the facility, and he told CBC News there are vacant beds that could be used by Islanders who need help. He believes a long-term contract for service should be negotiated.

"[They said] we can give you a contract rate," said Aylward.

"It then gives them a little more stability, and as long as there is availability there we could have six people, we could have eight youth attend that facility."

The government has a responsibility to provide support to make the centre more accessible, said Aylward, until a long-term solution for drug addiction treatment on P.E.I. is available.

Aylward said he spoke with Health Minister Doug Currie about the idea Thursday, and that Currie was receptive.