P.E.I. budget lacks 'transformational' projects needed, Opposition says
Greens looking for more systemic changes in health care, early childhood education
P.E.I's provincial budget is a "basket of promises and programs," and misses the opportunity for systemic change in areas like health-care, early childhood education and social assistance, says the Official Opposition.
PC Party Finance Minister Darlene Compton delivered the $2.7-billion provincial operating budget in the legislature Thursday.
"There are not any major transformational projects or programs, and that's really what we need to be seeing at this time in this phase of government," said Green Party MLA Hannah Bell.
And Bell said she doesn't have confidence the government will follow through on all the promises the budget did make.
"I mean, we've had promises for the mental health hospital and clearly that's not here. The mobile health units took years to get going."
'A pretty ambitious budget'
The budget includes modest spending increases, along with a number of eye-catching but low-cost new initiatives — like $100 rebates toward the cost of a new bicycle.
Bell said she would prefer to have seen, for example, direct investment in development of housing that is publicly owned and operated, as well as "transformational changes" in health-care and early childhood education.
This is a time when we should be applying the lessons that we've learned, rather than going back to the way it used to be.— Green Party MLA Hannah Bell
"There are fundamental issues, for instance, with how we hire and retain educators. We also know that our social safety net has been really stretched during COVID, and this is a time when we should be applying the lessons that we've learned, rather than going back to the way it used to be."
Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant said it isn't a "terrible" budget, but lacks a long-term vision in some areas that impact Islanders.
"It's a pretty ambitious budget and is a lot of money for a lot of different departments and a lot of little pockets of money here and there, but there doesn't seem to be any real substance to where they're going forward with, you know, health."
He said it's good the province is hiring more doctors, but many more general practitioners are needed to decrease the number of people on the patient registry.
Gallant also said there should be more in the budget to address the lack of long-term care beds.
With files from Kerry Campbell