An ambitious plan by the P.E.I. government to rebuild the Island economy has failed, says the Opposition, not meeting the targets it set in 2009.
The government of Premier Robert Ghiz announced the Island Prosperity Strategy in 2008, then delayed its implementation until 2009. It promised a five-year plan to create 2,400 new high-paying jobs in sectors such as aerospace and biotechnology. Government would invest $200 million in the plan, and predicted by 2014 P.E.I. wages would catch up to those in Alberta.
Whether jobs in those sectors were created is a matter for debate. Many jobs have been. In January 2009 the Island economy had 67,200 jobs and by January 2014 there were 74,600. No analysis, however, has been done to determine what sectors those new jobs are in.
The promise of wages matching those of Alberta's is clearly off the mark. In fact, wages have fallen back compared to both Alberta and to the national average. In 2009, P.E.I. wages were 16.1 per cent below the national average, and that fell to 20.6 per cent lower in 2013, the latest year Statistics Canada figures are available. P.E.I. wages were 27.2 per cent below Alberta's in 2009, and 2013 fell to 32.0 per cent lower.
As it was in 2009, the average wage on P.E.I. remains the lowest in the country.
This spring the province tabled a new Innovation Act that contains no mention of the Island Prosperity Strategy.
"It was a great stepping stone to move forward," Innovation Minister Allen Roach said the 2009 plan.
"I think we've seen, certainly we've seen the results."
Opposition leader Steven Myers said the plan failed, and now there's no new plan laying out government's current strategy to build the economy.
"Without having some sort of a plan or a strategy to base that on, it's going to be really hard to measure whether or not they're performing at any level at all," said Myers.
"Perhaps that's what they want."
A government spokesperson says sectors like aerospace and bioscience did expand under the Island Prosperity Strategy. No formal evaluation has ever been carried out, to see if the plan met its targets, or what the government spent trying to reach those goals.