CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – Prince Edward Island’s fall legislative session ended on November 17 with the passage of a capital budget of $ 212 million.
Progressive Conservative Finance Minister Darlene Compton’s capital budget included hundreds of millions of dollars for school construction, housing, health care, and road and highway improvements over the next five years. The total planned spending over five years is $ 840 million.
The investment budget was adopted with a vote of 15 votes in favor and 8 against.
All government members voted in favor, along with Acting Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant and Green MP Michele Beaton. Liberal MPs Robert Henderson and Hal Perry were absent for the vote.
The budget also included nearly $ 64 million in spending allocated to constructing buildings to house new nursing homes – the collaborative healthcare practices that Prime Minister Dennis King has pledged could provide primary care access to individuals. thousands of islanders. King has promised that five of these nursing homes will be operational across Prince Edward Island by March 2022. Their exact locations have not yet been made public.
In addition to the capital budget, the fall session of the legislature saw the passage of 23 government bills, three Green Opposition bills and one Liberal third party bill.
On the government side, this included substantial updates to the Lands Protection Act which will ensure tighter oversight of “asset sales” involving land companies.
Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson said the changes would close many of the loopholes highlighted by the sale of Brendel’s land in 2019, which an investigation later determined was a violation of the law. Farmers have long complained about “loopholes” in this law that could allow companies to consolidate large amounts of farmland.
Changes to the Island Planning Act also paved the way for the Island-wide Land Use Plan, which has been recommended by several studies commissioned by the province in recent years. decades.
Speaking to reporters after the session closed, King named the changes to the Land Protection Act as the legislation he was most proud of in the session.
“Successive governments have set it in motion. I am glad that ours adopted it and brought about the long overdue changes,” King said.
Changes to the province’s Income Tax Act will also increase the Basic Personal Income exemption from $ 10,500 to $ 11,250. This means Islanders will benefit from a reduction in their income tax in 2022.
“Our economy performed much better than expected when we entered COVID for sure,” King said.
“It was an important time to share Prince Edward Island’s economic success with Islanders. “
Other government legislative changes include extending bereavement leave to workers who have suffered pregnancy loss and making National Truth and Reconciliation Day a public holiday. Another law will provide a legal framework for class actions while the new digital assets law will allow Islanders to access digital assets, such as Facebook accounts, after the death of a loved one.
The fall legislative session also ended days after the by-election victory of Mark McLane, the PC candidate in Cornwall-Meadowbank. McLane will increase the number of MPPs to 15 out of 27 once he takes his seat in the Coles building.
The Greens adopted 3 bills
On the opposition side of the legislature, Greens leader Peter Bevan-Baker said the session was “spectacularly good” for the opposition.
“I think we have held the government to account with a vigor that we have never done before,” said Bevan-Baker.
He pointed to a bill introduced by Green MP Lynne Lund that will limit the use of nondisclosure agreements in cases of discrimination or harassment. The bill, which was passed unanimously, will make Prince Edward Island the first province to introduce provisions to prevent the misuse of NDAs. Lawyers said the confidential agreements muzzled survivors of sexual assault.
“Generally, Prince Edward Island is rarely a legislative pioneer,” said Bevan-Baker.
“A lot of times we’ll copy and paste pieces from other jurisdictions to create the legislation that we pass here. But this bill isn’t like that. It’s a whole new job done by Lynne.”
Another bill, introduced by Green MP Hannah Bell, will impose a two-year moratorium on renovation-related evictions. Another bill, introduced by Trish Altass, will require employers to provide information on wages in job advertisements. The bill seeks to ensure greater transparency in pay equity in PEI.
The Legislature also passed a motion introduced by Green MP Steve Howard calling for a citizens’ assembly to consider options for electoral reform in PEI.
Liberals focused their questions on health care
On the Liberal side of the legislature, a bill introduced by Tignish-Palmer Road MP Hal Perry has also passed that will eliminate residential water testing fees. Perry said many residents in his district have said they cannot afford the tests.
The Liberals also introduced a motion calling for mandatory vaccination for education staff. This motion, which almost clearly divided government and opposition members, was not adopted.
Speaking to the media, Gallant said he believes the Liberals have held the government accountable for issues of shortage and access to health care.
Explaining his vote with the government on the capital budget, Gallant said the main factor in his decision was $ 18 million in funding for Evangeline School renovations.
“Well my school is still there,” Gallant said.
“It’s important for my region.