Island Prosperity

The Island Prosperity strategy aimed to create the highest wages in the country. (CBC)

A five-year plan to create a new, more prosperous economy on P.E.I. does not appear to have created jobs where government had hoped.

The Island Prosperity Strategy, announced in 2008, launched in 2009, aimed to improve average wages on the Island, with one of the architects of the plan predicting they would be the highest in the country by 2014. The government would invest $200 million to create jobs in bioscience, information technology, aerospace and renewable energy to achieve this goal.

With 2014 here, the government has removed references to the strategy from its Innovation Act. There has been no analysis of what jobs were created by the Island Prosperity Strategy, or of how much money was spent on it.

The strategy, however, has demonstrably failed in its goal of seeing average wages catch up with the rest of Canada.  Average wages on the Island remain the lowest in the country, and have fallen further behind the Canadian average. In 2009, P.E.I. wages were 16.1 per cent lower than the national average. In 2013, they were 20.6 per cent lower.

The strategy does not appear to have been effective in creating new jobs in the targeted sectors either.

Statistics Canada figures show the P.E.I. economy created a net of 5,500 jobs from 2009 to 2013, but few of those were in the high-wage sectors the strategy targeted.

The biggest growth was in the health care and social assistance sector, positions almost exclusively paid for by the government. The next biggest growth was in retail trade. The manufacturing sector saw one of the biggest losses.

According to government's own numbers, the number of bioscience jobs increased from 850 to 1,100 over the period. But the target in the Island Prosperity Strategy was 2,000. The province did meet its target for IT jobs, growing the sector from 500 to 1,200 employed, with an average salary of $53,000.

2009 2013 Change
Total 68,600 74,100 +5,500
Key job numbers on P.E.I., 2009-2013 (Statistics Canada)
Manufacturing 5,400 4,900 -500
Retail 8,600 9,800 +1,200
Professional, scientific, technical services 2,100 3,000 +900
Business, building, and support services 2,600 2,100 -500
Educational services 5,200 6,300 +1,100
Health care and social assistance 7,900 10,100 +2,200
Information, culture and recreation 2,500 3,000 +500