Newly elected PC leader Aylward promises smaller class sizes, lower tax rates

Members of P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservative party heard from their new leader at their annual general meeting on Saturday.

Aylward is the party's first official leader since 2015

Newly elected Progressive Conservative leader James Aylward addresses his party for the first time, Saturday, at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Members of P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservative party heard from their new leader as he addressed the crowd at their annual general meeting.

Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward was elected Friday night at the Rodd Brudenell Resort and was met with a standing ovation before taking the podium at Saturday's meeting.

In his address, Aylward, the opposition's healthcare critic since 2011, emphasised reforms on addiction and mental health services.

"We are going to introduce an addictions facility in western Prince Edward Island. We are going to replace the Hillsborough Hospital instead of just talking about it," he announced.

Smaller class sizes

 Aylward also promised changes to the education system, including elected school boards, and smaller class sizes.

"My commitment is this: over the next five years, Prince Edward Island will have the lowest student to teacher ratio in the entire country," Aylward said.

"That'll be achieved through fiscal reasonability and making sure that we are putting our resources where they're best suited."

He finished by touching on small businesses and said the party would work to reduce the business tax rate to the lowest in the country.

Of course, with the Liberals in power, Aylward can only follow through on his promises if he wins the next provincial election.

Trivers to run in next election

His opponent in the leadership race, Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers, was also at the AGM.

He and Aylward discussed making changes to Trivers' role within the party, but neither man specified what that change could be.

Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers was Aylward's only opponent. Trivers says he's looking forward to working with Aylward on key issues. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"I think it'll be a good change and it's one I'm very interested in pursuing," Trivers said. "It's one change, relatively small, that's going to allow our teams to work together to hold this government to account."

Trivers also said he's committed to running in the next election in the spring.

Before then, there will be a byelection following the recent resignation of Liberal MLA Doug Currie.