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April 16, 2009
For immediate release
Budget 2009-2010 Investing in Islanders
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Investing in Islanders is a comprehensive plan to promote the present and future well-being of the people of this Province. It also takes practical measures to shield Islanders from the economic realities that have challenged virtually every jurisdiction in the world.
Minister Sheridan said he felt it was important to preserve and protect vital programs and services, while taking the imaginative steps required to build a stronger and more prosperous society for all Islanders. This includes substantial investments in healthcare, education and in programs that assist those in need.
“This budget strikes a balance, one which recognizes today’s realities and tomorrow’s opportunities,” he said. “By carefully and deliberately preparing this year’s fiscal plan, I believe we have achieved that balance.”
To that end, Government will increase spending in healthcare by $28 million this year. It will fund a Provincial Stroke Program, which includes a 10-bed Stroke Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The home care budget will be increased by $2.2 million, which includes the $1.5 million announced in the Fall of 2008. In addition, a further $800,000 will be invested to expand ambulance services and eliminate emergency ambulance fees for seniors.
Budget 2009-2010 increases public spending on drug programs by 6 percent, which represents a further investment of $2 million.
The Youth Addictions Strategy will receive an investment of $700,000.
Government will invest an additional $9.8 million with the three Island school boards this year. That’s a 5.7 percent increase over last year, and reflects Government’s strong belief that our future prosperity will be built on a better educated Island.
In 2009-2010, total student financial assistance from Government will reach $3.6 million for both the George Coles Bursary and the Island Student Awards. Since Government took office less than two years ago, this has increased by 136 per cent.
This budget also funds the development of a Skills PEI Initiative, which will combine the need for employment support with a significant role for training. It is anticipated that this ambitious program will begin in October of this year, and will represent an investment of $8 million over two years.
Building on the five-year Capital Budget, which was tabled last November, this year’s 2009/10 budget also places emphasis on stimulating the local economy. Infrastructure spending will grow by 28% and, included in this, is a provision to pursue two major project priorities – a new wind farm in Summerside and a proposed tourism and convention centre development for the capital city region.
The Watershed Management Program will receive an investment of $1 million, which is an increase of $500,000 over last year’s funding.
This year, Prince Edward Island will run a deficit of $85.3 million. Of this amount, $39.4 million is a pension adjustment, which reflects the downturn in the international financial markets.
“Although no government wishes to engage in deficit financing, I firmly believe it is important to invest during difficult times and save during good times,” Minister Sheridan said. “Our deficit target is reasonable and sustainable and, in comparison to many other jurisdictions, highly responsible.”