The introduction of the harmonized sales tax in April contributed to a strong economic performance for P.E.I. in 2013, says Premier Robert Ghiz, and he is expecting 2014 to be even better.
Ghiz made the comments last night in his annual state of the province address to the Rotary Club in Charlottetown. Ghiz listed off a string of statistics to make his point.
"International exports are up 1.8 per cent, retail sales have increased 1.6 per cent through October. Sale of motor vehicles has increased 12.5 per cent over 2012, the strongest growth in the country," he said.
Ghiz also noted growth in manufacturing shipments also led all provinces.
Ghiz said the introduction of the HST has helped the Island's economy by increasing the tax credits allowed for business.
Wayne Hambly, president of Hambly Enterprises, was in the audience and supported the premier's analysis.
"The HST has allowed our business to compete more favourably with mainland businesses," said Hambly.
While tax credits for businesses improved, that tax burden was shifted to consumers. In addition, the province implemented the HST in a manner that increased tax revenue. Other provinces introducing HST made the change revenue neutral.
Finance Minister Wes Sheridan said in the spring the extra revenue was needed to eliminate the deficit, but Ghiz did not address that issue Monday night.
Defending more professional development for teachers
Ghiz also addressed the controversial issue of more professional development days for teachers.
The province has performed poorly in international student testing, and has responding by increasing the number of PD days. Some have questioned that strategy, because it takes students out of the classroom.
Ghiz said he also initially he thought students needed more time in the classroom, but has since changed his mind.
"When I actually sat down and looked at the research myself, and looked at what other jurisdictions are doing, they were right giving me the advice, so I've taken my head out of the sand," he said.
"We've added three new PD days this year. We're going to add more into the future because we need to give our teachers the necessary tools."
Ghiz said the province is also focusing on early intervention and standardized testing.