Mental health, economy, and environment priorities for P.E.I. government in 2021

·3 min read
Mental health, economy, and environment priorities for P.E.I. government in 2021

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King doesn't plan to call an election anytime soon, despite a high approval rating with Island voters.

During a year-end interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin, King outlined his priorities for the coming year and said he plans to keep the fixed election date, which is in October 2023.

"The last thing anybody in P.E.I. would or should want right now is an election. We have so much work that we need to do to make our way back from this COVID situation, and that's where our focus would be," King said.

Some of the work the government needs to do, King said, will be toward balancing the provincial budget. But that will take a while.

Brian McInnis/CBC
Brian McInnis/CBC

"Our plan will include getting back to balance within three-and-a-half, four years. We think that's a doable time frame," the premier said.

"What we need to do is continue to try to respond to those Islanders who need us to be there to get through COVID, but at the same time we need to show some restraint. We need to show a path back, to make our fiscal house in order, to get it back in order," he said.

Province will focus on economy in 2021

In a fiscal update this fall, P.E.I. Finance Minister Darlene Compton said the government expected P.E.I.'s economy to shrink 3.6 per cent this year, with the tourism sector being hit the hardest.

The economy is also one of King's big priorities for 2021.

Brian McInnis/CBC
Brian McInnis/CBC

"We need to give people the continued confidence our economy is strong, our economy is going to rebound," he said.

His other two priorities for the new year are on the environmental and mental health fronts.

"You'll see us be a little more aggressive and explanatory when it comes to our pathway to net zero," King said.

"I think Islanders are very passionate about making sure our environment is as healthy as it can be. That'll be a big initiative for us."

Getting mental health services out 'a little more quickly'

On the mental health file, King said his government needs to do a better job at making sure Islanders know about the services that are offered, and how they are rolled out.

"I'd like to make a little bit more headway on the challenges around mental health and getting those services out across Prince Edward Island a little more quickly than what seems to be the case right now," he said.

King also spoke about continuing to work with the opposition parties, and when referring to his high approval rating, he gave them credit as well.

"I think collectively we work together in there, and I think people, when they think of government, they think of what's going on in the legislature, and I think that number belongs to all of us."

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