2022 Fall Capital Budget Address

Good Afternoon, Bonjour, Kwe.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share the planned capital spending by the Government of Prince Edward Island for the 2023-24 budgetary year.

This assembly hears about the capital budget every year.

But as Minister of Finance, this is my first time introducing a capital budget.  In fact, it has been just over 100 days since I assumed this role.  And, Mr. Speaker, it’s been a busy 100 days to say the least.  

It is a lot of responsibility, but it’s also an opportunity to help shape our province’s future.

C’est une grande responsabilité, mais c’est aussi une opportunité de façonner l’avenir de la province.

I would like to thank Minister Compton for her time in this role. Her guidance and support over the last three months has been appreciated.

I would also like to thank the team in the Department of Finance that assisted me through this transition and a special thank you to my caucus colleagues for their support.

The last few weeks have been challenging for our Province.

Hurricane Fiona was a direct hit to our province’s infrastructure, to the economy, to our communities, and to our people.

And we should not be surprised at this.

Climate change is real, and it is impacting our province now.

It is bringing more extreme weather to our shores. It is changing our seasons and our coastlines. It is undeniable.

Hurricane Fiona was the largest storm in our country’s history.

It was the first time since the invention of electricity that any province has completely lost power, like we did, from tip to tip.

It had an unprecedented impact on our people, our landscape and our environment.

The cost of this storm - for our province alone - is closing in on half a billion dollars. Never before has any natural disaster ever come close to this price tag in our PEI’s history.

This province, and this government, has faced a lot in the last three and a half years including Hurricane Dorian, rail blockades, malware attacks, and an abrupt halt to the export of our world-class potatoes.

Islanders are facing the largest cost of living increase in over 50 years and the immeasurable toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would be easy to feel defeated. And if you are feeling that way, that’s okay – we have all felt that at one point or another over the last few years.

But after we take the toll of our losses, we know the time has come to dust ourselves off and continue to move forward.

Mr. Speaker, as a government, we will say yes to the challenge of fixing what has been lost and broken.

We will say yes to rebuilding our infrastructure, our education system, and our health care facilities.

We will say yes to tackling our housing crisis.

And we will say yes to learning from our past responses, so we can do better in the future.

Take climate change for example.

Just recently, the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Action released the province’s first climate adaptation plan.

Adaptation refers to the actions we implement now to respond to the impacts of climate change that are already happening.

The problem is global, it’s devastating and it’s far reaching. But we say yes to protecting our Island communities from the impacts of climate change.

We don’t shy away. We don’t run and hide. We roll up our sleeves and get to work.

And, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to this budget, this is exactly what we are going to do.

This isn’t a time to shrug our shoulders – this is a time for bold & decisive leadership and, Mr. Speaker – the budget I present to this house today is both bold, and decisive.

Health care infrastructure that meets the needs of Islanders

Over the last number of weeks our government has been talking about healthcare a lot.  

Healthcare is the single most important issue that successive governments, over decades, have tried to wrap their arms around.

La santé est l’enjeu le plus important que les gouvernements qui se sont succédé au fil des décennies ont toujours tenté de régler une fois pour toutes.

Our government has been candid with Islanders – the current system isn’t working – it can’t be fixed.  

So, Mr. Speaker, we are building a new system.  

A system that focuses on who we have, not who we hope to get.   A system that focuses on collaboration and using our professionals to their full scope of practice. A system that puts the focus on the patient.  

These changes aren’t easy – it's an evolution, not a revolution.  But we are committed to making the innovative changes that are so desperately needed in order to provide better access to care across the province.

We know that infrastructure and technology will be necessary to make the new system successful.

We continue to build medical homes and medical neighbourhoods to improve access to care.

This budget has an investment of $58 Million for primary care infrastructure across the province.

This includes $3 million to finish the new Alberton Community Health Centre, $22 million for the new Summerside Community Health Centre and $9 million for the East Community Health Centre.

There is also $21 million for the new Queens Community Health Centre which will be co-located with the Mental Health Campus and $3 million to complete leasehold improvements for the Community Health Centre at the Mount.

These centers will bring together allied health professionals to provide wrap-around services to Islanders by working together – collaboratively, under one roof.

The new mental health campus is one of the largest capital investments in our province’s history, second only to the construction of the Confederation Bridge in the 90’s.

Since last Fall, we have seen the new Lacey House and our structured housing open.

Construction is underway for the new Emergency Department Short Stay Unit. And we continue to push forward on the next steps of this project.

There will be $174.4 million invested over five years in our mental health campus, including social safety housing, day programs, the mental health and addictions acute care hospital, and more.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps one of the best investments this government has made in terms of healthcare to date is in the UPEI School of Medicine. 

Instead of solely relying on recruiting doctors from around the world to come to PEI – we're building a medical school right here in PEI.  We’re going to train physicians here and keep them here.  

In order to prepare our medical system for these students, we need to make one of the largest investments in our province's history to update our community hospitals.  

This budget includes $22.8 million to begin to build a new hospital in Kings County, in addition to $18.5 million over five years for capital repairs to other health facilities throughout the province.

And while the physical space for health care is important, the necessary technology and equipment to provide seamless integration with our existing systems is just as important.  

This budget includes $11 million over five years to invest in our hospital information systems, mental health and addictions electric medical records and expand access of the EMR to community pharmacies to support the new Pharmacy Plus PEI program.

This is the largest investment ever made in health infrastructure in our province’s history – and it’s what’s needed to transform our healthcare system to ensure it’s reliable and accessible for all Islanders, now and into the future.

Forward-thinking education system

Hurricane Fiona didn’t spare our schools.  Some were hit harder than others, and we know our schools are important places for children to learn, to grow, and to gain skills that will shape them for the future.

Mr. Speaker, we aren’t shying away from making the investments that are needed in our schools. What we are saying is yes to preparing our Island youth to rise to the challenges they will face in their future.

This budget includes the largest investment in our province's history - $128 million - for new builds, expansions, and capital improvements.  

That includes, $24 million for the first Net Zero school in Atlantic Canada, Sherwood Elementary.

That includes $52 million for a new high school in Stratford.  

Cela comprend quarante et un millions de dollars pour une nouvelle école à Évangéline.  

Cela comprend douze millions de dollars pour l’agrandissement de l’école François Buote.

And Mr. Speaker, we aren’t delaying any of these projects – the work on these schools starts today.   

There will also be $20 million over five years in major school repairs at a variety of schools across the Island, and an additional $14 million specifically for Georgetown, Eliot River, Montague Consolidated, along with school ventilation upgrades at our remaining Island schools.

This is a $9 million increase over the capital repairs budget of last year, to assist schools in addressing the need for improved efficiency in our school infrastructure.

To continue our work towards being the first province to be Net Zero, we have allocated $51.3 million over five years for school buses, an increase of $10.9 million over last year – and the largest investment to date to speed up the transition of our school bus fleet to zero emission vehicles.

This equates to 125 new electric school buses and charging infrastructure, with each electric bus saving 17.9 tonnes of CO2. Our plan is to have our entire school bus fleet electrified by 2030.

Mr. Speaker, this budget also includes almost $11 million for classroom technology such as computers, chrome books, smartboards, and upgrades to trades training equipment at Island intermediate and high schools.

Fixing the housing crisis

Mr. Speaker, the shortage of housing in this province is a real issue.   

We continue to hear this, loud and clear, from communities large and small, rural and urban.

As a government, we’re committed to solving this problem once and for all.

Since 2019, our government has made record investments in housing – through growing our inventory of public housing, but also with partnering with private developers.

The Minister of Social Development and Housing has a plan.

That plan is comprehensive, well thought out and will get us back to a healthy vacancy rate of 4%.

Government must lead this work. And, we know we are racing against a clock.

The first step is increasing our investment in growing our inventory of public housing. We will do this by using a multi-pronged approach with new builds, modular units, and purchasing new and existing inventory.

With $150.9 million over 5 years, our plan builds on our existing commitments that included 100 new units in the Fall 2021 budget, but adds 365 new publicly owned social and affordable units, bringing the total to 465 units in this new 5-year plan.  

This includes 140 units on Malpeque Road; 60 units in Hillsborough Park; 30 units in Montague; 31 units in Summerside, and 150 modular and purchased units across the province in rural communities. The work on these units starts – today.

We will also work with partners such as the Construction Association of PEI and the industrial arts program at the Public Schools branch to provide 34 small homes to communities across the province.

At the same time, we know our existing inventory needs investment as well.  That’s why we are committing $20 million over 5 years on renovations, greening, retrofitting, and ensuring every seniors unit has backup generator emergency power.

Mr. Speaker, last year’s 5-year capital budget for Housing was projected to be $67 million.

Today, I stand here, shoulder to shoulder with Minister MacKay and my colleagues and am proud to say the new 5-year plan is $196 Million. Mr. Speaker, that’s almost triple the plan from last year.  We aren’t shying away, we're going to tackle the housing crisis head on.

Growing our public infrastructure

To keep our Island communities connected and keep the traveling public safe, we are investing over $240 million over five years in highways, paving, and bridges.

We continue to invest in sustainable transportation with $3.5 million in public electric vehicle charging stations over two years, and $5.5 million in active transportation trails.

To help reach our goal of protecting 7% of our land we are allocating $1.8 million over five years to purchase land that will support the conservation of natural habitat.  

Through our investment in buffer zone protection, we are committing $2.5 million to protect our water courses.  

Mr. Speaker, We are investing $10 million over five years in the protection of our shoreline and coastal roads and bridges.  

We are investing $30 million in provincial buildings over five years. Included in this amount is $10 million in new funding to support greening and retrofitting public buildings, including Island schools, with the goal of reducing GHG emissions to help us meet our Net Zero goals.

From public safety to our justice system, we are making investments to increase the safety of our province.

This includes continuing our investment in 911 system upgrades and the Provincial Integrated Communication System.

There are also new investments in the Emergency Measures Organization to assist them in responding to future emergencies.  

We will also invest in government emergency preparedness, with $7.5 million over three years to place generators at key infrastructure sites like Access PEI sites, justice facilities, and for our electric school bus fleet, and to addressing other needs identified following Hurricane Fiona.

We also have a responsibility to ensure that those in our corrections system are being treated fairly, and that they are housed safely.

This includes continued improvements to the Provincial Correctional Centre, as well as new investments in security, and ventilation upgrades.

Additionally, in response to a request from community groups and stakeholders, we have committed $3 Million to develop a site where vulnerable Islanders can access all the services they need including but not limited to shelter, day programming, counselling, therapy and other services identified and needed by these individuals and the community organizations that work with them on a daily basis.


Mr. Speaker, This is a record high capital budget for our province.

For the first time in our history, this five-year plan will exceed one billion dollars.

It is the largest investment ever made in our infrastructure.

Our government has said yes to securing the future of health care, education, housing, safety, and public lands and roads.

We say yes to meeting the needs of Islanders – now, and for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude by saying – never in the history of this province has a government had to deal with so much – but also – never has a government been able to do so much.   

We are proud of the investments we’ve made in the last 3.5 years and we are proud of the plan we lay out for our province for the next 5 years.

I look forward to debate on this capital budget with my legislative colleagues.

Thank you. Merci. Wela’lin

Published date: 
November 2, 2022

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