P.E.I. Opposition leader Steven Myers is ridiculing Tuesday's provincial budget, saying it appears the government's main priority is partying.
For the third year in a row, government is holding the line on spending, waiting for tax revenues to grow. The biggest exception to that rule is the Department of Tourism and Culture, which saw its budget jump 66 per cent in 2013-14 and have another 7.8 per cent added to its budget for the coming year.
The government will spend $17.9 million in that department in 2014-15, $7.9 million more than it budgeted in 2012-13.
The money is going to fund 2014 celebrations, marking the 150th year since the Charlottetown Conference, the 1864 meeting that led to Confederation.
"This government loves to party madam speaker," said Myers in response to the budget.
"They love to party, and sadly as we read through the rest of the budget it seems that partying is all they really know how to do."
Myers noted in particular that education spending has been frozen over the same period. Spending on higher education is down more than $7 million in the 2014-15 budget.
Myers has his doubts that when the 2014 party is over, government will be able to table a balanced budget, something Finance Minister Wes Sheridan has promised to do next spring.
Social assistance plan needed now, says NDP
NDP Leader Mike Redmond was disappointed to see the only social assistance increase in the budget was two per cent for room and board and clothing allowances for children in foster care.
The government says it will table a five-year plan to raise assistance rates next year.
"2015 is too long to wait. People are in need," said Redmond.
"We were hoping that we would see something from this government to show us that they understood people in this province are really, really struggling. This government hasn't done it once again."
Redmond was also unimpressed with the details of a new program to provide children with funding for insulin pumps, pointing out that assistance will go away once they become adults.
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