$16M in provincial loan writeoffs made public

More than $16 million in provincial loan writeoffs were released today by the province under new disclosure rules.

Loans to P.E.I. companies range from $6M to $25K, date back to 2001

All loans of more than $25,000 cancelled or written off by the province are to be disclosed. (Shutterstock)

More than $16 million in provincial loan writeoffs were released today by the province under new disclosure rules. 

A few weeks ago, the province announced that it would change P.E.I.'s Financial Administration Act to publicly disclose all loan writeoffs of more than $25,000 through orders-in-council.

Last year, the auditor general raised serious concerns about P.E.I. Crown lending agencies writing off millions of dollars in government loans without government approval, and without any way for taxpayers to know the loans were being written off, and who had owed government that money.

32 writeoffs and cancellations disclosed

Today in a written release, the government revealed names, addresses and amounts of debts written off or cancelled, including some debts dating back to 2001.The release noted that the rules don't extend to those receiving social assistance, student financial assistance or long-term care subsidies. 

A release on the government's website lists 32 writeoffs and debt cancellations including more than $6 million for Testori Americas in Slemon Park, $1.2 million for Cabinetmaster woodworking in Charlottetown and $600,000 for Central Marine Fiberglass of Cornwall. The estate of Bruce Nigel Howard of London was forgiven a $775,500 bill from Health PEI. The $1.1 million e-gaming loan to the Mi'kmaq Confederacy is also there. 

Defending loan program

The government pointed out the value of loaning money into P.E.I. as an economic stimulus. 

"Government lending provides important support to Island businesses looking to expand, hire or develop new products, as we grow our economy," the province noted in the release. 

The province has more than $370 million in loans to Island companies — loans it said generate more than $15 million annually in interest, and "more than offsets its operating costs,resulting in an annual profit for the province."