Budget invests in critical services, moves toward balance
Prince Edward Island’s 2015-16 operating budget invests in front-line services while continuing on the road to balance next year, Finance Minister Allen Roach says.
“Islanders expect and deserve a fiscally responsible government, and we are leading by example and living within our means,” Roach said. “This budget focuses on the programs and services Islanders depend on, while encouraging economic growth that will raise additional revenue for these services.”
The 2015-16 budget will:
• make a series of targeted, front-line investments in our health-care system, which represents 40 per cent of our total program expenditures;
• launch the P.E.I. Generic Drug Program, saving Islanders without insurance $2 million this year;
• add $500,000 for enhanced home care for the elderly and to expand the seniors’ mental health resource team;
• double the funding for breakfast programs in our schools;
• lower or eliminate provincial income tax for 12,000 Islanders including seniors, working single parents, and lower-income Islanders by adjusting credit levels and increasing the threshold at which Islanders can keep the full credits, putting $1.7 million back in to the pockets of those who need it the most;
• increase total funding for Education and Early Learning by $3.76 million;
• increase by $60,000 a year support for the CHANCES literacy programs for families with children up to three years old; and
• enhance funding for UPEI and Holland College by $1 million;
• commit $180,000 to watershed groups that protect and enhance our water resources;
• provide $1.2 million to producers, industry, and agribusiness to support science-backed improvements as a way to encourage innovation in agriculture;
• increase funding for the Office of the Auditor General; and
• increase the tax on a carton of 200 cigarettes by $5 and the tax on 200 grams of fine tobacco by $8, resulting in a revenue increase of approximately $2 million each year.
Revenues in 2015-16 will grow by 1.4 per cent while expenditures will be held to 0.5 per cent. The province’s consolidated deficit will be a projected $20 million, which is half as much as projected last year.
“We are on track to balance the budget in 2016-17, and we will get there by investing in the areas that matter the most to Islanders,” Roach said. “Though prudent fiscal management, targeted investments, and a measured approach, we will reach our goal.”