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P.E.I. pandemic recovery budget projects $112-million deficit as spending rises

Last Updated Mar 12, 2021 at 12:24 pm EDT

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King speaks after announcing a cabinet shuffle in Charlottetown, Thursday, Feb.4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Morris

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island’s Tory government is projecting a $112-million deficit in a budget it is billing as a step on the “road to recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Darlene Compton provided the estimate today as she delivered a 2021-22 provincial budget with projections of $2.5 billion in spending.

Compton told the legislature the budget shortfall comes on top of the deficit for the current year, which is now expected to be $120 million by the end of March — about $50 million lower than originally projected.

She referred to the pandemic as “the greatest social and economic disruption since the Second World War,” saying funds were needed to help younger Islanders, the health system and the hard-hit tourism sector.

New spending includes over $14 million for health-care measures that include improvements to primary care, a centre for mental health, virtual care technologies and recruitment of nurses.

There is also $11.3 million for young Islanders in support for pre-kindergarten programs, added school staff, added child care spaces and support to colleges and universities.

The minister says the government will introduce a $3-million fund to assist tourism businesses with costs associated with reopening this season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press