Question Period, 13 November 2015
Full transcript available here.

Rural Action Plan

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism: With the previous government’s Rural Action Plan set to expire this year, could the minister give the House an evaluation of that plan and how it has benefitted rural communities on Prince Edward Island?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

Mr. MacDonald: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Rural Action Plan, as indicated, we’re in the process of presently reviewing the Rural Action Plan with staff and going over any highlights and places where we require improvement.

Thank you.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, first supplementary.

Rural economic development

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Every community council that I have met with in my district, be that Emyvale, Crapaud, Kingston, Victoria, Canoe Cove, have told me that they’re concerned about the direction of rural development on Prince Edward Island, and no doubt, my colleagues who represent rural districts would agree with me and they will have heard the same.

Could the minister tell us if he plans to develop a new strategy for rural economic development on PEI?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

Mr. MacDonald: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We’re building a strong and cohesive effort to build communities across the province thorough economic development. We are seeing strong growth in our export. We’re up18% overall, we’re leading Canada. Our manufacturing sales are up 5.6%, or 5.9%, to be correct. We continue to build and invest in businesses throughout the region. We want to become sustainable in those rural communities.

I’ll give you another good example of – Innovation PEI most recently, $19.5 million in grants year-to-date already that we’ve invested. Over 50% of that went to rural PEI. Through the cultural grant program, $2 million a year that we’ve invested. Through the tourism grant program, $2.7 million a year. These are going into theatres, festivals, events, strategic places, and we’re looking forward to the infrastructure information that we’re receiving from Ottawa.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your second supplementary.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday we heard a very worthy suggestion from the official opposition about an infrastructure summit to take advantage of the anticipated new federal funds which will be coming our way. However, all of those programs that you cited, minister, quite correctly, used leveraged funds from the Island Community Fund, a fund which has been discontinued.

How will the minister ensure that rural communities have access to the provincial funds required to take full advantage of any new federal funding opportunities that may come forward?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

Mr. MacDonald: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It was discontinued, that fund, the ICF fund. I think at this point and time through economic development and what we’re trying to do as a body – and believe me, tourism is economic development, and the two co-exist very well together. But you’re seeing advancements in rural PEI through – you take Trout River Industries, 70 and 80 employees. You take Aspin Kemp and what they’re doing. East Isle Fabrication. All over PEI we have development, and they’re long-term, sustainable employment jobs and that’s what this government has to focus on.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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