P.E.I.'s surplus grows to almost $14M

P.E.I.'s surplus has grown from the projected $1.5 million last spring to $13.8 million, Finance Minister Heath MacDonald said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon about the province's third quarter financials.

Province's 3rd quarter fiscal update delivered Wednesday by finance minister

'We have to ensure that we put our expenditures back into the programs that matter most,' says P.E.I. Finance Minister Heath MacDonald. (Tim Hamming/CBC)

P.E.I.'s surplus has grown from $4.4 million last November to $13.8 million, Finance Minister Heath MacDonald said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Charlottetown updating the province's fiscal outlook. 

Last spring the province projected a surplus of $1.5 million.

The numbers showed an improvement in the treasury's bottom line, and the province committed to spending some of its growing surplus revenues after facing criticism for failing to do that last year. 

"Things are booming," MacDonald said. 

"But it is in all fairness the hard-working people of P.E.I. that are contributing to this. So we have to ensure that we put our expenditures back into the programs that matter most to them."

Give and take

Overall government revenues are now expected to come in $39 million over budget, with significant increases in tax revenues.

  • Corporate income tax revenue up $11.6 million over budget estimates.
  • Personal income taxes up $10.3 million.
  • HST up $8.5 million.

Meanwhile expenditures are up $27 million, including an overall increase of $6.7 million in program spending, together with losses for the Prince Edward Island Agricultural Insurance Corporation estimated at $16 million after eight per cent of the Island's potato crop was unable to be harvested.

Focus on spending

The focus on spending some of the growing surplus comes after the province posted a surprise $75 million surplus in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

That money was used to pay off some of the province's debt, prompting some criticism that more should have been spent on programs.

'You just try to estimate the best you can ... the higher the better,' said MacDonald of coming in with a higher-than-predicted surplus. 'It's a good problem to have.' (Tim Hamming/CBC)

"We've done a tremendous amount of work in poverty reduction," MacDonald told CBC News. "We also have health care that's growing, education that's continuously growing. 

"It's pretty easy to spend it," MacDonald said of demands on the treasury. 

The current fiscal year ends on March 31, but government will not have final figures available until October when the province's audited financial statements are released.

P.E.I. works with an annual budget of just over $2 billion. 

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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.


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