Provincial Greens call for more spending on health care, housing in next capital budget

The P.E.I. Green Party has released its wish list for the provincial capital budget expected this fall.

Opposition party says priorities in party's budget submission come directly from concerns of Islanders

Opposition House Leader and Green MLA Michele Beaton, pictured in June, says when governments focus on population growth, the planning that goes with that needs to be addressed. (Michele Beaton/CBC)

The P.E.I. Green Party has released its wish list for the provincial capital budget expected this fall.

Opposition House Leader Michele Beaton says the party has focused on four areas: health care, housing, children and families, and building sustainable communities.

"We've been hearing clearly that these are areas of priorities for Islanders," she told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier on Tuesday.

The party said in a news release that it sent its capital budget submission to Premier Dennis King's Progressive Conservative government on Aug. 13. Last November, the King government projected it would spend $195 million on capital projects in 2021-22. The five-year projected total was $747.6 million. 

The Greens say the PCs underspent on public housing and mental health and addictions during last year's budget, which five Green MLAs either voted against or abstained from voting on.

The party's submission this year calls for:

  • Timely construction of the already planned Sherwood and Stratford schools.
  • Better ventilation in Island schools.
  • A new building for Summerside Harbourside Medical Centre.
  • A restorative care unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
  • Expansion of child-care facilities.
  • A federally approved food inspection facility so more Island businesses can export their products. 
  • Investment in green infrastructure. 
  • Improving and expanding both seniors' housing and shelter facilities.

Beaton said the party's requests are not fully costed, as factors such as cost of land are difficult for the Opposition to come up with, but that the list reflects Islanders' priorities. The costs that are listed in the document total in the tens of millions, ranging from $20,000 for air conditioning at Hillsborough Hospital to $20 million in 2021-22 for public housing.

She noted that a succession of P.E.I. governments have prioritized population growth. 

"So in order to be able to achieve that, we have to ensure that all other facets of planning need to be addressed, and we're hearing loud and clear that housing has missed the mark [and] health care is not meeting the expectations of Islanders," she said.

Beaton said the Greens appreciate the ability to chime in on the budget.

"We don't have the ultimate say, of course, but Islanders absolutely do," she said. 

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