The provincial government will deliver a budget surplus while meeting its commitment to families, health care, education, and enhanced employment opportunities.
Finance Minister Allen Roach presented the 2017-18 operating budget to the Legislative Assembly today. The budget is projecting a surplus of $600,000 and a fiscal plan that reflects the province’s growing economic strength and diversity.
“The return to balance has been a steadfast goal of our government since we first took office, and I thank our public servants for working to ensure we reached our budgetary objectives,” Minister Roach said. “This surplus budget is a blueprint for social and economic expansion that invests in the areas most important to Islanders.”
Highlights of the budget include:
- the largest increase in health care spending in nearly a decade;
- an additional $5.4 million for education;
- an increase of $6.6 million in support of families and Islanders in need; and
- a reduction in provincial income tax that will help 85,000 Islanders.
New investments are being made in resources for skills training, post-secondary education, and programs designed to expand both traditional and emerging economic sectors. The budget also includes over $43 million for infrastructure spending – $28 million of which is allocated to fund clean water projects in communities across the Island.
“Our plan for 2017-18 is responsible, responsive and reliable,” Minister Roach said. “It is built around a deep respect for the resources of Island taxpayers and demonstrates what Prince Edward Island can accomplish when we work together to reach our goals.”
2017-18 budget highlights
Our plan for 2017-18 is responsible, responsive and reliable. It is a blueprint for social and economic expansion – and it does so in a manner that is fiscally disciplined.
Our plan is precise – and it confirms our commitment to families, health care, education and enhanced employment opportunities for Islanders.
• This year’s budget will be balanced – we are confident in projecting a surplus of $601,000 for fiscal year 2017-18
• A reduction in provincial income tax will assist 85,000 Islanders
An increase of $6.6 million in support of families and Islanders in need:
- food rates will increase for social assistance clients;
- new funding for the child care subsidy;
- more than $5 million for Islanders wishing to stay in their own homes, through programs such as Seniors’ Home Repair and Seniors Safe at Home;
- increase in comfort allowance for subsidized residents in community care facilities, as well as other clients of the department currently receiving the allowance; and
- funding for a children’s lawyer to provide legal services to protect the needs and interests of children.
The largest increase in health care spending in nearly a decade:
- a universal influenza immunization program;
- increase the comfort allowance for subsidized residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities;
- additional emergency room doctors to reduce wait times;
- new neurology services;
- a geriatrician to support the Seniors Strategy; and
- new supports to prevent and assist Islanders living with cancer.
An additional $5.4 million dedicated to the education of Island children:• increase early-years autism grants;
- two occupational therapists in the east and the west;
- a mental health therapist to provide assessment, therapy, and clinical coordination;
- school nurses to focus on health promotion and education;
- youth workers to help with issues related to behavior, social skills and alcohol and drug awareness; and
- additional funding for educational assistants.
Employment opportunities for Islanders
- up to $2 million for a new Angel/Seed Investment Fund;
- economic advisory councils to drive economic growth in rural Prince Edward Island and all communities;
- supporting Youth in Careers program;
- expand Team Seafood concept to trucking and construction sectors;
- an increase to the weekly maximum student loan;
- extension of the grace period before student loan repayment to one year; and
- introduction of the severe permanent disability benefit.