Province's economic recovery plan doesn't do enough for workers, Opposition says

·2 min read
The report has a strong focus on community. (Government of P.E.I. - image credit)
The report has a strong focus on community. (Government of P.E.I. - image credit)

In the early days of the pandemic, Premier Dennis King appointed a council of 28 Island leaders to provide guidance for how P.E.I. could emerge from the economic turmoil when the crisis was over.

"COVID-19 has impacted all Islanders — our entire well-being has been threatened," King said in May of 2020.

"We need to chart a clear path forward, one that does not necessarily take us back to our pre-COVID normal."

While the pandemic drags on, the province released the report of the Premier's Council for Recovery and Growth this week.

The 18-page report includes the following recommendations.

For business: Support more local buying and procurement, and create more opportunities for Islanders to invest locally.

For education: Increase investment in early childhood education and child care. For high school students, increase emphasis on experiential learning, using partnerships with key sectors, with the aim of building awareness of non-traditional career paths.

For poverty: Explore ways to raise wages on the Island (P.E.I.'s are the lowest in the country) and examine some form of a basic income guarantee.

For health: Educate Islanders on basic skills for maintaining mental health, and establish criteria to measure and report on social determinants of health and poverty. Take more advantage of online technologies, including improving access to medical records and more telehealth.

For sustainability: Establish new public transportation routes, create community hubs for services and activities, develop new initiatives for near- or net-zero construction and invest in more electric buses and supports for other electric vehicles.

In an introduction to the report, King said many of the recommendations helped inform this year's budget and speech from the throne.

The Opposition Green party was critical of the report, calling it "extremely pro-business" and failing to adequately address working conditions for employees.

"The report makes no concrete commitment to legislated paid sick days, or raising the minimum wage to a living wage," the Green Party said in a news release attributed to its leader, Peter Bevan-Baker.

"The premier fails to offer any solutions for our housing crisis as many Islanders struggle to find and afford shelter. Not only does our housing crisis come at a great personal cost to Islanders, it also locks many people out of economic opportunity. The reluctance of the King government to acknowledge housing as a basic human right, and a critical part of a healthy economy, is telling in its approach here."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting