PEI

1 person (so far) answers P.E.I.'s call: 'You should come home'

The P.E.I. government says one family moved back to the island as a result of an ad campaign in the month of August encouraging ex-pat Islanders to come home. The Official Opposition called the $32,000 campaign a 'gimmick.'

Opposition calls $32k ad campaign a 'gimmick’

A screen capture from Google's cached version of the P.E.I. government webpage for its 'Maybe You Should Come Home' campaign. The original web page has been taken down. (Google)

The P.E.I. government says one family moved back to the island as a result of an ad campaign in the month of August encouraging ex-pat Islanders to come home.

Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning Sonny Gallant said 45 people entered the draw for a one-way ticket to P.E.I. offered up by the provincial government in connection with the campaign.

Gallant said none of them except the winner of the draw, Marianne Dennis of Toronto, had returned to the Island.

 "Not at this point, but as it goes along we'll learn more about the contest," Gallant told reporters Tuesday.

Beer, scarves, and free flights

Opposition MLAs criticized the Liberals for not taking more substantive measures — like lowering taxes or raising wages — to boost the Island's population.

"Two years ago, this government was in Alberta handing out beer and scarves,"  said PC MLA Steven Myers during question period.

"When will this government move beyond gimmicks and questionable marketing campaigns to attract skilled workers back here to Prince Edward Island to address the labour shortage that we have?"

Gallant defended the campaign as "money well spent."

"It created a buzz right across the province and right across the country and there was many people interested and checked it out and were coming back to PEI," he said.

Government later provided further statistics, noting that, over the course of the radio and social media campaign, there were 1,860 visits to the contest website.

Gallant said since the campaign, 297 people have registered at the province's Work PEI website, which matches job seekers with Island employers.

Campaign drew backlash

The "Maybe You Should Come Home" ad campaign drew a backlash from some residents.

"[It's] almost like a little bit of a slap in the face to a lot of young people who can't live in the province that we call home," said Jill MacIntyre, referring to the lack of affordable housing in the province.

Others pointed to the province's low wages, as Myers did Tuesday.

"People want to be here, people want to eat supper at home with their own children," Myers said. "People want to do all these things but they can't. They can't come home here and work for 14 dollars an hour when they're making 45 up north. It just doesn't cut it."

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About the Author

Kerry Campbell

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Kerry Campbell is the provincial affairs reporter for CBC P.E.I., covering politics and the provincial legislature. kerry.campbell@cbc.ca