Repatriation campaign 'a slap in the face' say some P.E.I. residents
'I don't feel like I can make a living here and that's really heartbreaking to me'
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.
My thoughts on the current bringing Islanders home campaign:<br>1) it's dirty as Hell for the govt to try to sway young ppl to return without investing in a basic income or better jobs<br>2) tourism is essential to the island but affordable housing for Islanders is more important—@jillmacintyre
'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.
3) legislation similar to the Lands Protection Act re: double taxing non-Islanders buying property should be implemented to regulate airbnbs—@jillmacintyre
4) while housing in ctown is a huge issue rn, we also need to focus on poverty in rural communities because they often lack the same political power as urban centres—@jillmacintyre
We'd be much better off as a province if the politicos could cease their braggadocio and self-congratulation and instead develop a capacity to empathize with struggling Islanders and stop suggesting that the problem is with them and not the environment they live in.—@HoodHaikus
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.
9. Furthermore, although govt cites YDay 2017 as a reason for a repatriation campaign, work-related discussions I participated in went along the lines of "don't use self-employment to get out of ensuring there are jobs available". Not everyone wants the entrepreneur lifestyle.—@HoodHaikus
PEI is awesome. Housing availability currently sucks. Gov is working on it. PEI is still awesome. End of argument.—@SamMacPhail
"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.
And understand the struggles of fellow islanders going through the same thing. <br><br>Also, I believe if you send your concerns the government will take notice!—@PaytonJadis
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.