On the day the P.E.I. government tabled the second-largest capital budget in the province's history, opposition parties took aim at what they characterized as "unsustainable" levels of public spending.
Finance Minister Allen Roach delivered a capital budget for 2018-19 that includes $133.9 million in spending on schools, roads and public health facilities.
Finance officials said once amortization is factored in, that spending will push up the province's overall debt by about $56 million.
The province's net debt stood at $2.26 billion as of March 31, 2017.
"It strikes me that this budget is the latest piece of evidence that this Liberal government is addicted to unsustainable levels of spending," P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker told the House.
'There's no bearing on balancing that'
In his budget address, Roach said the province's "fiscal prudence" led to the first balanced operating budget in a decade.
'The Liberal party for whatever reason hasn't gotten the memo.' —Steven Myers
He said that, along with the strong performance of the provincial economy, is allowing government "to make significant new investments in modern infrastructure to support Islanders."
PC finance critic Darlene Compton said that fiscal prudence is nowhere to be seen in the capital budget.
"They're bragging about balancing the operating budget but obviously the capital budget is, there's no bearing on balancing that."
Premier Wade MacLauchlan defended his government's spending plan, saying even with the increase in debt, the province will be able to improve its debt-to-GDP ratio.
"The main thing is to respond to the needs of Islanders," he said.
"So there's a big investment in education and schools. We're well aware that those needs have been demonstrated."
New Sherwood school
On the announcement of $19.2 million to replace Sherwood Elementary, opposition parties were accusing government of trying to influence the upcoming byelection in District 11 Charlottetown-Parkdale.
"It's corporate Liberal politics as usual," said PC MLA Steven Myers. "It's the thing I hear the most about politics that people are sick of … the Liberal party for whatever reason hasn't gotten the memo."
NDP Leader Mike Redmond, who's also running in the byelection, said "it's wonderful that the government has seen the light to address school infrastructure, it is a shame that the premier uses elections to do the right thing."
MacLauchlan said government was responding to a funding request from the Public Schools Branch.
"Sherwood School is of an age and of a capacity that will be of great benefit to that community and to all of our province to invest and invest now."
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