Throne Speech charts path forward for growing, diversified province
The Third Session of the Sixty-fifth General Assembly of Prince Edward Island opened today with the Speech from the Throne by the Honourable Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island.
The speech outlined the successes of the first two-and-a-half years of government’s mandate while outlining a plan for continuing to support prosperity for Prince Edward Island’s population.
“Our prosperity as a province has never been greater, and the resulting confidence held by residents and businesses leads the region,” Premier Wade MacLauchlan said. “As a government we have been hard at work during these 30 months; in collaboration with many partners, we have achieved much. Now, we commit to work hard to achieve even more on behalf of everyone in this province.”
Highlights of the speech include:
A growing and engaged population
- continue to strengthen efforts to attract and retain post-secondary graduates, building on last year’s new International Student Employer Liaison Office;
- create new opportunities to retain and repatriate young Islanders;
- continue to expand the WorkPEI.ca website to match job seekers with local employers;
- take further steps to maximize retention rates for new immigrants; and
- continue collaborating with municipalities to develop “welcome to the community” initiatives.
An increasingly diversified economy
- continue to invest in agriculture and fisheries to help Island products reach global markets;
- develop a food cluster that combines the best research and practice on food safety and security to underline our place as Canada’s Food Island;
- continue to build more tourism visitation during shoulder seasons and support tourism growth in all regions of the province;
- work with leaders in our expanding sectors, and our newly created Regional Economic Advisory Councils that will identify strategic growth actions in each region; and
- launch a five-year plan for culture and creative industries that includes a new Creative Industry Market Development Program.
Strong communities and modern infrastructure
- introduce a new capital plan that commits to extensive infrastructure renewal and development;
- escalate the plan to extend and enhance broadband services across the province; and
- develop a PEI Housing Strategy over the next year, with the first step to establish a Housing Supply Task Force to help develop accessible housing across the province.
Clean energy and a sustainable environment
- bring forward a Carbon Mitigation Strategy and a Carbon Adaptation Plan in early 2018; and
- table the Water Act, the first time this legislation has been proposed in the province.
A healthy population
- develop a new seniors strategy to focus on key issues including health, wellness, and housing;
- move forward on the design of a modern campus of mental health services in Charlottetown to serve all Islanders;
- develop a program for seniors to fund services such as light housekeeping or snow removal;
- continue to put into place student well-being teams in all families of schools across the province; and
- continue the necessary work to prepare for the federal legalization of recreational cannabis, with an approach focused on keeping proceeds out of the hands of criminals, education, and striving for a consistent approach.
Investing in our future
- move forward on additional recommendations of the review of the Child Protection Act, building on the already enacted Children’s Lawyer and PEI Bridge that are now helping to better serve vulnerable children and families;
- continue to review approaches to student assessments to stay current with best practices and reflective of the overall needs of our learners; and
- strengthen the collaborative approach with the District Advisory Councils and further engage the Principals’ Council on ways to strengthen students' learning environment and potential.
Government will introduce a comprehensive poverty-reduction strategy, drawing from communities across the province through the Poverty Reduction Advisory Council.
Open government and active democracy
- request the creation of a map that clearly lays out the geographic boundaries inherent in the mixed member proportional model considered in the 2016 plebiscite;
- re-introduce Public Interest Disclosure legislation;
- introduce the Lobbyist Registration Act;
- bring forward a discussion document on campaign finance reform; and
- launch a process to review and update the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
For more information and to read the full speech, please visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/thronespeech.
Progress on government’s agenda after 30 months:
- The Island economy is stronger than it ever has been, and growing faster than the region and the country. Islanders are better off and our businesses and communities are growing and diversifying into new areas of activity.
- More Islanders are working, with more full-time jobs available, including more than 2,500 new full-time jobs in the last year.
- Total labour income in the province is experiencing the second-fastest growth in the country.
- Our population is growing, reaching 152,000 in 2017, the fastest growth in Canada. For the first time since 1968, our median age has declined. We are well on track to meet the goal of a population of 160,000 Islanders by 2022.
- Books have been balanced, with the first balanced budget in a decade, allowing for more investments in health, education, children and families.
- The Generic Drug Program has provided 18,000 Islanders with greater access to needed medication at a reasonable cost to them.
- We have provided direct tax relief to 85,000 Islanders, and 3,000 fewer Islanders are now not paying any provincial income tax.
- Together with our federal partner, we have made historic investments in infrastructure, including the PEI-New Brunswick Submarine Cable Project, the single largest infrastructure project since the Confederation Bridge.
- We have taken ambitious steps toward greater government transparency and accountability, including the establishment of the position of ethics and integrity commissioner, the development of whistleblower policy and draft legislation, extended conflict-of-interest requirements, and more public disclosures.
Bills that will be considered in the fall 2017 session include:
- Water Act
- Act to Amend the Early Learning and Child Care Act
- Act to Amend the Child Protection Act
- Planning Statutes Act
- Act to Amend the PEI Housing Corporation Act
- Act to Amend the Real Property Tax Act
- Business Corporations Act
- Act to Amend the Health Services Act
- Lobbyist Registration Act
- Public Interest Disclosure Act