PEI

Investments in youth, health care among P.E.I. budget highlights

Investments in young Islanders — including free bus transit, free school supplies for all students up to Grade 9, an increase in post-secondary bursaries and even a $100 rebate on the purchase of a bicycle — were among the highlights of the 2022 P.E.I. budget presented Thursday in the P.E.I. Legislature.

Budget forecasts $92.9 million deficit, up from $26.4 million in 2021

Government has pledged funding to make all bus transit routes, including rural transit and T3 Transit routes in Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall, free for anyone under the age of 18. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Investments in young Islanders — including free bus transit, free school supplies for all students up to Grade 9, an increase in post-secondary bursaries and a $100 rebate on the purchase of a bicycle — were among the highlights of the 2022 P.E.I. budget presented Thursday in the P.E.I. Legislature.

The budget includes a total expenditure of almost $2.7 billion — a two-per-cent increase in program spending over last year — that would more than triple the provincial deficit to $92.9 million.

Health care accounts for about $910 million of the budget, about a three per cent increase from last year. About $8.7 million has been allocated to add family doctors and physicians with specialties, including general surgery, ophthalmology, chronic pain and ADHD.

The budget commits more than $1 million to provide support to front-line staff in the health-care system to help including resources to address labour relations concerns and staffing shortages that became a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As well, more than $1 million will be invested to create a float pool of 25 new full-time registered nurses that can be assigned based on the most urgent needs.

The budget also includes new investments in existing programs, such the medical homes and neighbourhood project and the provincial dental care program.

P.E.I.'s 'optimistic but cautious' approach to the budget

5 months ago
Duration 6:07
Finance Minister Darlene Compton discusses the P.E.I. budget with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin

Preventative health measures include a new tax on vaping products and an increase on tobacco taxes.

Many families, however, will take note of the spending for youth.

Partnering with the federal government, it announced a record investment of $27.2 million to expand child-care spaces, increase wages and designate more centres. 

Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, all students in the English and French public school systems from kindergarten to Grade 9 will be provided with free school supplies.

A new tax on vaping will be implemented in 2022, according to the provincial budget. (CCO/Pixabay)

The government is also committing to 40 full-time positions in the school system, including teachers, education assistants, student services support and cleaning staff.

Households with a total income of less than $60,000 will be eligible to receive up to $600 per child — an increase of $200 — to help pay for sports registrations, memberships and equipment. 

A half a million dollars has been set aside to offer $100 rebates toward the cost of a new bicycle.

As the province works toward its goal of net-zero emissions, it has increased its investment in the electric vehicle rebate program and heat pump rebate program.

Government has pledged funding to make all bus transit routes, including rural transit and T3 Transit routes in Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall, free for anyone under the age of 18.

To encourage healthy living, the province is offering a $100 rebate on the purchase of a new bicycle. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

To help address the housing situation, the province is increasing rental support, affordable housing grants and home renovation programs.

Finance Minister Darlene Compton said economic growth is projected to be 3.5 per cent in 2021 and 2.9 per cent in 2022. 

She said there will still be some uncertainty ahead as the province moves on from COVID-19, and she noted the agriculture industry is still awaiting word on when it can resume exporting potatoes to the United States. The government has allocated two contingency funds of $15 million each to address those situations during the 2022-23 fiscal year.

There will also be a freeze on government fees for the year, and an increase in the personal basic tax exemption.

 

now