The P.E.I. government needs to start providing details on how it is going to eliminate the deficit, says a major bond rating agency.
'We really want to see what the province is going to do in terms of where those savings are going to come from.'— Travis Shaw, DBRS
Since Robert Ghiz's Liberal government was elected in 2007 it's added $450 million to the net debt, which now stands at $1.4 billion. The province is expecting another $55 million shortfall for this coming year.
Finance Minister Wes Sheridan told CBC News Thursday the economy has improved and government departments have cut costs.
"Each one has been able to find ways to control their expenditure growth so that we do not cut any of the services to Islanders," said Sheridan.
While the Dominion Bond Rating Service is not concerned that the balancing of the budget might not happen until 2013-14, vice-president Travis Shaw said the company would like more details on how the province intends to do it. The government says it won't cut education or health spending, and that leaves Shaw wondering just where the cuts are coming from.
"There were not a lot of details provided," said Shaw.
"Coming up to this year's budget, we really want to see what the province is going to do in terms of where those savings are going to come from."
Cut jobs: Taxpayers Federation
The Canadian Taxpayers' Federation is also keen to see a balanced budget, but it wants to see it this spring.
Atlantic Director Kevin Lacey said too many taxpayer dollars are going to service the debt rather than to healthcare or education. Lacey said while making hard decisions is especially difficult in an election year, P.E.I. might want to start cutting civil service jobs. He noted the province has the second highest number of civil servants per capita in the country.
"You can't deal with these issues of the deficit unless you deal with the size of the government," said Lacey.
"So election year or no election year, the government should show the guts and cut the spending."
The provincial budget is expected in early April.