Premier Robert Ghiz struck a positive tone in his state of the province address Monday night, saying he believes investing in education will be the key to a bright future for P.E.I.
Speaking to the rotary clubs of Prince Edward Island at their annual dinner in Charlottetown, Ghiz said he believes increasing access to education will ensure more opportunities are available to Islanders in an increasingly global economy.
"We don’t have minerals, oil, potash or natural gas. But what we do have is our people. And Islanders are fiercely loyal to our province and very much want our province to succeed,” he said.
“Therefore, in my opinion, our best possible investment in the future is in Islanders. And the best way of doing that is in our education system.”
Ghiz pointed to money his government has invested in early childhood development with programming like Chances’ Best Start Program and the move of kindergarten into the public education system.
He also pointed to funding that has also been put into post-secondary education with such initiatives as the George Coles Bursary for all Island students and the forgiving of interest on P.E.I. student loans.
These initiatives have already begun to show positive results and will help Island students be more employable as they enter the workforce, Ghiz said.
This, in turn, will help P.E.I.’s economy by attracting more businesses to Prince Edward Island.
“Our education system is what I believe our future is about,” Ghiz said.
“It’s about creating the environment so that the next generation of Islanders will be able to compete in the global marketplace. The plan is simple, we want to give every Island child the best possible start in life.”
When speaking about the current state of the province, the premier remained equally positive.
He focused on signs of growth in both the global economy and in provincial industries and sectors.
This growth is resulting in improvements to employment, export, retail sales and capital investments on the Island.
He admitted much of this growth will be due to the introduction of the controversial harmonized sales tax later this year. But he said the new tax will help to modernize P.E.I.’s economy and make it more attractive to private enterprise.
“Our education system is what I believe our future is about,” - Premier Robert Ghiz
“I’m extremely optimistic about our Island’s prospects,” Ghiz said.
“The economy is starting to show definite signs of improvements. There are bright spots in agriculture, aerospace, bioscience, tourism and fisheries, and next year we will have the opportunity to celebrate our Island by marking the 150th anniversary of the birthplace of Confederation.”
Going forward, Ghiz pledged to continue to invest in education for Islanders, “to make sure that each and every Islander, regardless of their socio-economic background, will have every possible opportunity in life.”