Once again Prince Edward Island is leading all of Canada with a soaring cost of living. According to new Statistics Canada data released today, PEI recorded an 8.9% inflation rate, year over year, in April.
In the spring sitting of the Legislature, my caucus repeatedly called on this Government to share its plan to support Islanders through this unprecedented period of inflation. Instead of a plan, the Minister of Finance, who earns twice the median Island household income, could only offer unhelpful advice to ‘tighten your belts.’ This was not simply a terrible choice of words – it was a clear expression of the King Government’s approach to supporting Islanders.
When given the opportunity to provide Islanders a full carbon rebate—hundreds of dollars more than what his actual plan provides—Premier King questioned whether putting more money in Islanders’ pockets was the best approach. When pressed to rapidly provide food gift cards to Islanders—something that was so easily done for tourists—this government did nothing.
The King government must overcome its reluctance to help people. This government must address the crippling effects of soaring inflation in PEI. This is not the time to hide from the problem or diminish the reality faced by Islanders. By choosing to do nothing, Premier King is turning his back on Islanders in their time of need.
I am calling on the Premier to immediately provide much-needed relief for Islanders. For instance, he could:
- Reverse his carbon pricing plan to return more money to Islanders;
- Provide free public transit in our cities and rural areas;
- Expand the Seniors Emergency Food program across the Island and resume accepting applications for the program;
- Create an internet rebate for workers so they can choose to work remotely; and
- Provide targeted financial support to tenants and implement a rent freeze.
Inflation is driving Islanders deeper into mental and financial despair, and this government is not helping. The issue is not that government doesn’t have the tools available to ease the burden of inflation, or that the Opposition hasn’t provided solutions where the King government is unable. The issue is a lack of empathy and respect for the Islanders this government serves.
Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA New Haven-Rocky Point
Leader of the Official Opposition