P.E.I. government increases emergency fund to $40M, offers property tax relief
P.E.I. in 'better position to bounce back' from economic devastation of COVID-19, says finance minister
The P.E.I. government announced new financial measures at its afternoon briefing Friday and gave an economic update for the province.
At the end of 2019, P.E.I.'s economy was outperforming the national average leading the country in GDP growth and that momentum was projected into 2020, according to the province.
Minister of Finance Darlene Compton said because of that, P.E.I. is in a good position to "bounce back" following the pandemic.
However, COVID-19 has had an impact. Compton said three weeks ago the province was projecting a $2.5 million surplus for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Now, a $3.7 million deficit is being projected.
Compton announced a $15 million increase to the emergency contingency fund, bringing the total funding to $40 million in anticipation of the increasing needs of Islanders affected by COVID-19.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King noted nearly 10,000 Islanders have filed for employment insurance.
Compton also outlined additional financial measures to help Islanders with property tax relief, including the option to defer property tax payment until Dec. 31, 2020.
Other measures include:
- Extending property assessment appeal deadlines for assessment year 2020 to December 31, 2020.
- Providing interest relief for tax year 2020, including all past due amounts.
- Suspending tax sale processes for the remainder of 2020.
- Delaying mailing of provincial tax bills for 2020 until June.
Compton also said to ensure continuity of local services the province will continue to pay municipalities, fire stations and Island Waste Management Corporation their usual tax and fee amounts.
"Our objective is to work collaboratively with the federal government to make sure our programs align and fill the gaps to ensure no Islanders are left behind."
Programs aren't perfect
King acknowledged the programs being offered by the provincial government won't make everyone "whole."
Compton agreed that the financial support being offered hasn't been "perfect."
"But I can assure you our team is working around the clock to ensure that our province's response is as immediate and responsive as possible."
Government also announced in a release that at the request of the Retail Council of Canada, it is allowing retailers to distribute single-use paper bags free of charge to customers if they so choose citing health concerns as the reason.
At Friday's 1:30 p.m. briefing, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison said there were no new cases of COVID-19 and the total of cases on the Island remain at 22.
Four cases on the Island are now considered to be recovered.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.
How can I protect myself?
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
Practise physical distancing.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.