Too late to adjust inflation relief cheques, MLAs told

·2 min read
The worst of inflation may be behind us, says P.E.I. Finance Department director Nigel Burns. (Province of P.E.I. - image credit)
The worst of inflation may be behind us, says P.E.I. Finance Department director Nigel Burns. (Province of P.E.I. - image credit)

P.E.I. Finance Department officials briefed MLAs Tuesday about the rising cost of living on the Island, including the status of inflation relief cheques announced in March.

P.E.I.'s inflation rate has been the highest in Canada for more than a year now, and in April it hit 8.9 per cent.

When the government relief was announced the inflation rate was 7.4 per cent, but Finance Department director Nigel Burns said it is too late to make any adjustments in the cheques, which are going out as part of annual GST rebates.

"We're maybe three weeks from delivery," said Burns.

"It's quite possible CRA has them printed and ready to go. It would not be possible to make any changes to July."

Calculated by household income

The government has adjusted some of the criteria for people to receive the relief since it was initially announced.

In March government said individuals making $35,000 a year or less would receive $150 and those making $50,000 would get as much as $100.

The program was adjusted to reflect household income, rather than individual income. Households making $70,000 or less will receive $150, with the amount provided tapering off up to $100,000 in income.

With inflation where it currently is, Green MLA Ole Hammerlund pointed out $150 would make up for the lost buying power of someone making about $1,600 a year.

Government estimates the program will assist about 90,000 Islanders at a cost of $15 million.

Worst behind us

Fuel, shelter and food prices have been the major drivers of inflation on the Island, said Burns.

He noted the Bank of Canada is forecasting that inflation has already peaked in the country, and prices should stabilize soon.

Those stabilized prices could still remain high.

MLAs said they were hoping to ask Finance Minister Darlene Compton questions. Compton was invited to the meeting, but did not appear.

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