$200M development plan to start in 2009

P.E.I.'s new five-year development plan, with its intention of creating 2,000 jobs, will not get started until 2009.

P.E.I.'s new five-year development plan, with its intention of creating 2,000 jobs, will not get started until 2009.

Michael Mayne, deputy minister of innovation and technology, announces the new project on Thursday. ((CBC))

The government announced the strategy Thursday, saying it would spend $200 million over five years to develop new opportunities in bioscience, information technology, aerospace and renewable energy. Details of the plan are still sketchy, and it will not appear in the provincial budget until next spring.

In making the announcement, Premier Robert Ghiz insisted his government is serious about pursuing the ambitious plan.

"These are just not lofty goals, these are just not fanciful ideas. We intend to follow through," said Ghiz.

The Island Prosperity project will be led by Michael Mayne, the deputy minister of Innovation and Technology. Mayne boldly predicts that by the time his vision reaches its fifth year, the average weekly salary of Islanders will be the highest of any province in Canada.

"There's a strong desire to translate this innovation into jobs," said Mayne.

"This is about finding the right full-time jobs, associating our labour gaps with our technological needs, and it's about higher-paying jobs."

The Opposition, however, is worried the announcement is a sign the Ghiz government is leaving P.E.I.'s traditional industries behind.

"I feel very disappointed that they've left out our primary industries, our farming and our fishing, tourism, and manufacturing and processing. All those sectors have been left out," said industry critic Mike Currie.

Mayne countered that developments in the bioscience industry will rely on the expertise of farmers and fishermen, and provide them with new ways of making money.