PEI

NDP says there is 'money in the system' for newly revealed campaign promises

P.E.I.'s New Democratic Party opened its election campaign Thursday with the release of the first section of its Agenda 2020 platform.

1st instalment of so-called Agenda 2020 includes 24 promises

P.E.I. NDP Leader Joe Byrne and candidate Herb Dickieson present Agenda 2020 at a news conference on Thursday. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

P.E.I.'s New Democratic Party opened its election campaign Thursday with the release of the first section of its Agenda 2020 platform.

The news release contains two dozen separate promises, including:

  • Opening a medical faculty at UPEI. 
  • Creating a provincial pension plan. 
  • Making all new government purchases of passenger vehicles electric. 
  • Adding 40 new doctors and specialists.

With the new-doctors promise comes a plan to provide a family doctor for all Islanders within 18 months of forming government.

One of the ways the party plans to do that is by tripling the number of doctor residency positions on the Island. 

"The residency gives us the most immediate effect," said NDP Leader Joe Byrne 

"Maybe they're from here, maybe they're new here, but they'll be able to explore the community and have the right supports."

The provincial transportation overhaul would include more rural public transit, including a route from Montague to Charlottetown, and a fully electric service between Charlottetown and Summerside.

Money 'in the system,' Byrne says

The new provincial plan would be for every working person on the Island who does not already have a pension plan.

On the housing front, the NDP are promising 2,000 new not-for-profit housing units in their first mandate, along with expanded seniors' homes capacity.

When asked how the party would pay for its promises, which include a $100 million fund for farmers, Byrne said it's about choices. 

"There's money in the system.... Take the bypass for example. The bypass, maybe it's a good idea, but we chose to spend a huge pile of money on that. That's just choices that governments have to make," he said.

"What we're saying is we need to make a set of different choices," though he conceded new money would need to be found to pay for the plan.

Byrne said details of the budget for this part of their plan will be released when the full platform budget is finished. 

Last week, the P.E.I. government essentially signalled there would be an election within the next eight months by announcing the beginning of the campaign for a referendum on voting. The referendum will allow Islanders to choose if they want to switch from first past the post to a mixed-member proportional election system. 

NDP support is currently running in single digits in the polls.

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