The good, the bad and the in-between: Reaction to the P.E.I. budget

·5 min read
Peter Bevan-Baker, the leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island, says the budget did not take into account many topics of importance to Islanders. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)
Peter Bevan-Baker, the leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island, says the budget did not take into account many topics of importance to Islanders. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)

A reduction in small-business tax and help for health care, housing, education and daycare got high marks from some Island and Atlantic groups on Friday.

But the King goverrnment's budget was also called "a soaring narrative filled with exaggerated words of hope and self-praise."

Below are summaries of some of the reactions the budget caused.

P.E.I.'s Official Opposition, the Green Party

A news release from the Green Party said the budget is "filled with boutique promises that amounts to crisis management by a thousand bandages" and was delivered with "a soaring narrative filled with exaggerated words of hope and self-praise." Leader Peter Bevan-Baker said in the release that the King government's budget addressed only 12 of the 20 items the Official Opposition had identified as being needed in the consultation phase. "Sadly, many of the commitments they made in the budget are partial, vague, and lacking any actionable plan." The party said the budget did not look after low-income Islanders, seniors, post-secondary students, essential workers, and front-line health-care workers.

Tourism industry

The Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island, or TIAPEI, gave the budget a thumbs up, especially a $3 million activation grant fund to help tourism operators get ready for the summer. CEO Corryn Clemence said support for implementing the tourism strategy and safe certification program are also welcome, as are an increase of the basic personal tax exemption and a reduction of the small business tax rate. "The budget contains some key pieces for our industry to rebuild, but it will only be effective if our borders open in a meaningful way and visitors can return to Prince Edward Island," Clemence said in a written release.

There are several measures in the 2021-22 budget that will help P.E.I.'s tourism operators, says Tourism Industry Association CEO Corryn Clemence.
There are several measures in the 2021-22 budget that will help P.E.I.'s tourism operators, says Tourism Industry Association CEO Corryn Clemence. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber liked Premier Dennis King's decision to lower taxes for small businesses. As of January 2022, P.E.I.'s small business tax rate will be lowered to one percentage point. CEO Penny Walsh-McGuire said in a release that means "P.E.I. has the lowest and most competitive rate in Atlantic Canada." The chamber also approved of the province raising the basic personal amount for income tax filing to $11,250, saying it would help lower-income Islanders, many of whom are essential workers. Walsh-McGuire also said tourism operators will appreciate a new non-repayable grant to help with reopening costs — but asked for clarity on when the province will reopen its borders to more visitors. Daycare help, a new microloan program, and funds for professional services, website development and innovation were also welcomed.

Canadian Union of Public Employees

The president of CUPE P.E.I. praised the budget as "reasonable," saying it "integrates and will implement many CUPE recommendations. The bulk of the budget focuses on health-care improvements and many community-support measures." Leonard Gallant mentioned specifically that the government chose to invest in health care, child care and education. On housing affordability, Gallant said, "while the rent supplement program is not the best way to deal with the issue and lacks ambition, I am glad to see government recognizes the need to do more on this file." He said the union has long been pushing for a provincewide transit system and welcomes money for a study on the topic. "One big missing item which I would have loved to see is a more progressive taxation system," Gallant added.

UPEI Student Union

The organization representing students at the University of Prince Edward Island says the provincial budget contains good news for post-secondary students. Malak Nassar, the UPEISU's vice-president academic and external, says there are investments they had been advocating for, such as a moratorium on provincial student loan payments until September. "Not having to worry about paying provincial student loans for a period of time is great for both the people and the economy because it is pumping back some disposable income into people's pockets." There will also be a $500,000 investment in the needs-based Island Advantage bursary for students trying to access post-secondary education and a program to ease access to textbooks and learning resources.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The advocacy group applauded the lower tax rate for small businesses. Renaud Brossard, interim Atlantic director of the federation, said in a release that the move "empowers local job creators to play a large role in the province's economic recovery." Brossard also noted that P.E.I.'s deficit "is going in the right direction, down $60 million from last year." On the critical side, the federation called on the province to index its tax brackets to inflation and stop covering operating losses at government-run golf courses.

Health advocates

Brooks Roche has diabetes and spoke out in 2020 in support of all Islanders who need them having access to insulin pumps.

Roche tweeted his support today for the government's budget announcement of $1 million to enhance the province's diabetes strategy.

Hunter Guindon, an Islander living with cystic fibrosis, tweeted his support of an increase of the number of drugs the province will cover for those who can't afford them.

Guindon appeared before a legislative committee in February, asking P.E.I.'s Health Department to fast-track coverage for a new life-saving drug treatment for the disease.

More from CBC P.E.I.