Throne speech in denial over cuts to public services

Posted April 6, 2012

The President of the Prince Edward Island Union of Public Sector Employees, Shelley Ward, says that "the provincial government's Speech from the Throne made no mention of the public service cuts that will negatively affect more than 10% of civil service employees. This is not good news for Islanders and the public services they depend on every day."

President Ward says "the throne speech emphasizes that government expects the economy to grow to record levels this year reaching $5.3 billion. To put this in perspective, the Island economy was worth $4.5 billion in 2007. As a result of this growth, government revenues have increased by over $300,000,000 since 2007. It's hard to believe that in the wake of this economic growth the Ghiz government is cutting hundreds of jobs that will hurt families and business across PEI."

"The throne speech also hides what is planned for our health care system on Prince Edward Island. Government has hinted that tough decisions need to be made and that major changes are on the horizon - yet these tough decisions are not revealed in the document," asserts Ward. "There is mention of reductions to federal health transfers, however, these changes don't come into effect until 2017-18. It is starting to look like the Corpus Sanchez review of health care, the e-health project, and the creation of Health PEI were expensive and unnecessary gambles with Island health care that have not produced results."

Ward says "the union agrees with government's focus on private sector job creation." However, she cautions that "this impetus must not come at the expense of losing tax dollars on bad government loans and grants. We have seen this government squander millions through Ocean Choice, Homburg and Food Trust/Mid Isle Farms. This money could have been invested in public services and on preventing job cuts that are hurting Island families and the economy. In regard to the provincial golf courses, the province is once again looking for private interest and even has expressed the option of leasing the four courses. These options are not acceptable as they will result in additional job losses, over and above the present cuts, which rural PEI is not in a position to absorb."

"I think it's time for the government to take responsibility for its own fiscal mismanagement as they continue to blame the job cuts on the recession of 2008 and the reduction of future health transfer increases. The Premier said in December 2011 that every department except Health PEI would be subject to a 3% reduction - mostly through program review. We now see that "program review" translates into approximately 275 government employees receiving layoff notices, and 50 others being subjected to reduced hours or possible layoff. The throne speech delivered yesterday is clearly in denial over cuts to public services."