Disability support budget down, Opposition charges
Government promised more money for disability support
The Opposition demanded to know why the P.E.I. government is projecting $500,000 less in spending on disability support in the coming year, despite an election promise to spend more.
The disability support program provides funding to help 1,500 Islanders living with disabilities to improve their quality of life. During the election the Liberals promised to increase funding by more than half a million dollars.
In question period Tuesday, the opposition noted funding for disability support in the new budget is less than what government spent last year.
"The budget line item for the coming year is $500,000 less than what was spent last year. And again, it's in black and white," said Progressive Conservative MLA James Aylward, brandishing a page from the budget.
"Are Islanders with disabilities the latest group to bear the brunt of your government's budget cuts?"
Government will spend according to need
The government responded it is not cutting money from the budget. The allocation is the same as last year, when spending went over budget.
"The mandate is to support Islanders, we turn nobody away," said Currie.
"In the event that we're over budget, we're committed to responding to that."
Currie admitted the extra half-million dollars the Liberals promised in the spring election campaign hasn't hasn't been provided.
Advocacy groups say with no increase in funding Islanders with disabilities face mounting financial pressures.
"The cost of everything is going up, so that doesn't change if you're a person with a disability," said Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities.
"And what we see over and over again is the cost of these disability-related interventions go up at a higher rate than the cost of living."
Overall, the funding for social services is the budget is flat. There are a half-dozen Liberal election promises, including the money for disability support, which haven't been fulfilled.
Currie said his government will fulfill those commitments over its four-year mandate.
He also said he will make sure the entire budget is spent every year. Previous Liberal government left millions in social spending unspent.