Opposition gives Rural Action Plan failing grade
Rural development Minister Ron MacKinley defends strategy's progress
The Island’s Opposition Progressive Conservatives have given Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development Minister Ron MacKinley a failing grade in his implementation of P.E.I.’s Rural Action Plan.
The strategy, launched in 2010, sets out 40 recommendations and attempts to stem criticism that the government is ignoring the province's small communities and primary industries.
The projected cost of the plan is about $40 million over a five-year period.
MacKinley gave an update on the Rural Action Plan to a legislative committee Wednesday morning.
He said his department is well on their way to achieving 40 goals set out to develop rural businesses, agriculture, tourism and the fishery — with progress made on 35 of those goals.
However, some Conservative members called the plan a failure, citing the current situation in the Island’s lobster industry where declining markets have forced processors to put catch quotas on boats.
"You’re making excuses, you’re blaming others and you’re actually, you don’t even need a department and actually you have [Innovation Minister Allen Roach] doing all of the work for you. Why not just take fisheries and put it in innovation and let them take care of it?" said Conservative House Leader Hal Perry.
MacKinley fired back saying he is trying to find new markets for the lobster and to develop holding tanks. He said the problem can’t be fixed overnight.