P.E.I. government commits to secondary school in Stratford
$157M capital budget largest ever
The P.E.I. capital budget for 2019-20 includes $38 million for the construction of a new high school in Stratford.
Finance Minister Heath MacDonald tabled the capital budget for 2019-20, which is worth $157 million, in the legislature Friday morning.
The school will be built in co-operation with the town, which will donate the land. Details, including where the school will go, are still to be worked out. The school is expected to be completed in three to four years.
Stratford, the third largest municipality on the Island and the fastest growing, currently does not have a junior high or high school. After Grade 6, students are bused to schools in Charlottetown.
Still no junior high
In August, Stratford released a proposal for a two-school complex that would include a junior high school and a high school, multiple sport fields and a rink.
With the new high school, students will be able to finish school in their home community, but will still need to be bused to Charlottetown for Grades 7 to 9.
Other new investments in education include 20 new school buses, at a cost of $2.1 million, new classrooms in West Royalty at a cost of $4.7 million, and $3.6 million for sports facilities at École-sur-Mer.
The government also set aside $500,000 for a comprehensive review of school infrastructure, to determine which schools will require renovation or replacement over the next few years.
More for mental health
The budget includes an expansion on plans to improve mental health facilities in the province.
Last year, the capital budget included $60 million spread out over several years for the construction of a central mental health campus. This year, that budget has grown to $100 million over the next five years and includes more facilities.
In his budget address, MacDonald said the province is committing "to build — province-wide — an advanced and modern series of facilities that meet the needs of Islanders struggling with the effects of mental health and addictions."
In other healthcare investments, the province will replace the system that electronically stores diagnostic images. The current system was put in place in 2003, said MacDonald, and has reached the end of its useful life.
The government budgeted $7.2 million for the new system.
There was an additional $5.4 million for other new hospital equipment.
Support for electric vehicles
The budget sets aside $730,000 for new electric vehicle charging stations.
That will include six Level-3 fast chargers and 12 Level-2 chargers. The plan is to set the new chargers up in six locations, with one Level-3 and two Level-2 at each.
Also on the environmental front, the province will add biomass heating systems to 20 more buildings.
An increase in spending
The province forecasts it will come very close to hitting its target for its 2018-19 capital budget.
Last fall the total budget estimate was for $133,865,200. The current forecast is just a few thousand dollars less than that, $133,856,800.
The 2019-20 overall budget is significantly higher at $156,567,500. The biggest jump in spending is in Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, up about $17 million to $72 million.
Family and Human Services also becomes a significant line item in 2019-20, as the government moves on promises to build affordable housing.
In 2018-19 Family and Human Services cost just $1.3 million. Next year that jumps to $12.5 million, of which almost $11 million is for housing construction. A further $6 million is currently set aside in the 2020-21 budget.