PEI

Repatriation campaign 'a slap in the face' say some P.E.I. residents

A new campaign to encourage Islanders to come back to P.E.I. is being criticized by some people who say the province needs to address the issues pushing people away.

'I don't feel like I can make a living here and that's really heartbreaking to me'

Jill MacIntyre, left, and Nathan Hood, centre, both voiced concerns with the government's new campaign to bring Islanders home on Twitter, while Payton Jadis, right, voiced her support for it. (Caitlin Gallant/Mike Needham/Jared Doyle)

A new campaign to encourage Islanders to come back to P.E.I. is being criticized by some who say the province needs to address the issues pushing people away.

This month, the P.E.I. government launched a social media campaign called Maybe You Should Come Home, asking people to post reasons to move back to P.E.I. The prize for the contest is a one-way ticket to the Island.

'A slap in the face'

"This [campaign] is almost like a little bit of a slap in the face to a lot of young people who can't live in the province that we call home," said Jill MacIntyre, 22, who was among those who criticized the campaign on Twitter.

MacIntyre moved home to Summerside, P.E.I., in May after graduating from Mount Allison University. 

She plans to stay a year, but says a lack of affordable housing and difficulty finding a job in her field means she will probably move off-Island. 

Nathan Hood, 23, also raised concerns about the campaign on Twitter.

"You see so many of your brilliant friends who just go away for greener pastures," he said. "These are some of the smartest people I've met and they leave because they just feel like the appropriate opportunities aren't here."

The Charlottetown native graduated from UPEI in the spring, and hasn't been able to find work in his field, so is looking off-Island.

"I don't think that's a great systemic set up for your province where you have to leave to get the skills you need to be successful in your province and then you can come back," he said.

'I don't feel like I can make a living here'

Hood and MacIntyre would like to see more investments to create year-round, well-paid jobs.

They would also like to see increased restrictions on short-term vacation rentals, which they feel are cutting into the housing supply.

"I don't feel like I can make a living here and that's really heartbreaking to me, and it is to many young Islanders who are in a similar position," said MacIntyre.

'Going in the right direction'

Not everyone took issue with the campaign, with some tweets supporting efforts government has made so far.

Payton Jadis, 23, is the women's association representative with the P.E.I. Young Liberals and graduated from UPEI last May.

She grew up and currently lives on the Abegweit First Nation and plans to stay on the Island.

"There's plenty more room to grow and to get more work going, but I think that it's going in the right direction for sure," she said.

Campaign not 'happening in a vacuum'

The province said it has seen the concerns, but the campaign isn't "happening in a vacuum."

"There's many initiatives that are ongoing, " said Brad Colwill, deputy minister of workforce and advanced learning. "It is certainly something we view as important — to keep Islanders here."

He said the government's housing action plan is working to address low vacancy rates and a need for affordable housing.

He also pointed to recent growth in job numbers, as well as programs offered by his department to help people find employment.

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About the Author

Jesara Sinclair

Journalist

Jesara Sinclair is a journalist with CBC P.E.I. Prior to Charlottetown, she worked with CBC in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. E-mail: jesara.sinclair@cbc.ca.

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