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May 31, 2000
For immediate release

Population Strategy Report Released

Executive Council

The final report of the Population Strategy Panel, A Place to Stay?, was released today at a press conference attended by the eight-member volunteer panel and Premier Pat Binns. The report recommends a target of 1% population growth a year comparable to the rate of recent decades, but significantly higher than the level forecast for the future. It proposes an integrated strategy to sustain the Island's population by encouraging more people to stay and attracting more people to move here, and sets out over fifty recommendations in support of these goals.

"Our consultations showed that population issues are deeply important to Islanders," said Frank Ledwell, chair of the Panel. "Across the province and particularly in Eastern and Western PEI, people are concerned about youth out-migration. They want a future that holds opportunity for our children and youth and allows them to stay here, or to come back here after a few years of learning and working elsewhere."

Professor Ledwell noted that Islanders recognize that population aging will have significant impacts on our society in the longer term and they want to prepare for it in an orderly way.

"The majority of Islanders support moderate, balanced growth in vibrant, sustainable communities across PEI," he said. "They also welcome the return of former Islanders, as well as new Islanders, recognizing that in-migration benefits the province culturally, socially, and economically."

The Panel began its work in June 1999, with a mandate to examine the implications of population and demographic trends for PEI, assess what role if any government should play to influence population growth, and develop a strategy on how best to keep youth in the province, attract Islanders living away to return, and foster immigration to PEI. The Panel carried out extensive research and consultations in the summer and fall of 1999 to gather Islanders' views on goals, principles, and priorities for PEI in building its population base.

"I commend the Panel members for their thorough approach and their commitment to public participation in their work," said Premier Binns, "and I thank them for giving so much of their time to this initiative. Population and demographic issues shape our lives and our economy, often more than we realize. Since coming to office, I have been convinced that these issues need to be examined in depth, and I believe that this report fulfills that need."

Premier Binns stated that A Place to Stay? contains much valuable information and advice, and he intends to ensure that it receives careful review and consideration by his government.

"I hope that it will also serve as the basis for greater awareness of population issues among the public, communities, and the private sector, and a greater appreciation of the role that they also can play in building a strong, stable population base for PEI," said Premier Binns.

Professor Frank Ledwell believes that this report will assist the Province to achieve growth and development while preserving and strengthening the qualities that make Prince Edward Island a special place.

"We found that all presenters, despite differences in views, were united in a deep and sincere concern for the welfare of our province. This commitment provides a strong foundation on which we as a society can build a sustainable, secure future. We hope that the Report's findings and recommendations will assist in that work," said Professor Ledwell.

The work of the Population Strategy Panel was coordinated by the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI. President Wade MacLauchlan is pleased about the University's role in the development of the Population Strategy.

"I am pleased that the University of Prince Edward Island, through the Institute of Island Studies, has been able to contribute to a public policy issue of such importance," he notes. "In recent years, the Institute has distinguished itself as an arms-length organization with demonstrated expertise in policy research and public consultation."

Copies of the Panel's report can be obtained from Island Information Service, 11 Kent Street, Charlottetown, (902) 368-4000. The report will also be available on-line at the provincial website, at www.gov.pe.ca.

For more information, contact Anne McCallum, (902) 566-0909, eamccallum@upei.ca

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Media Contact: Island Information Service
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