P.E.I. finance minister alarmed by unilateral changes in federal budget

Teresa Wright
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Union and labour leaders in P.E.I. gathered Tuesday in Charlottetown to watch television coverage of the federal budget. From left, Dawn Hardy, president of the area council for PSAC, Carl Pursey, president of the P.E.I. Federation of Labour and Debbie Buell,  national vice president for the Union of Veteran’s Affairs Employees for the Charlottetown headquarters. 

P.E.I. Finance Minister Wes Sheridan says he is concerned over unilateral changes made in the last two federal budgets that could have major impacts on the province’s finances.

Sheridan was particularly alarmed over an announcement in the 2014 federal budget Tuesday that the current immigrant investor program will end immediately and be replaced with a new pilot project.

While it is not known whether this will affect the federal or provincial immigrant investor program, the fact this major change was made with no prior consultation with the provinces doesn’t sit well with P.E.I.’s finance minister.

“These are some of the decisions that will impact my ability to balance,” Sheridan told reporters Tuesday evening.

“When you impact something as large as an immigrant investor fund that affects my bottom line without any kind of consultation, it’s impactful and it’s hurtful and it makes you wonder what type of government would do this without any type of pre-knowledge or consultation?”

He pointed also to changes in labour market agreements being negotiated as part of the Canada Jobs Grant, another major shift announced in last year’s budget.

Details of this new jobs program are still not yet known, nor are provinces and municipalities aware of exactly how the 2014 infrastructure fund, also announced last year, will roll out.

“These are the types of programs that we have to have a little bit of input on,” he said.

“Our concern is that, in their attempt to find positive measures, they are finding the initiatives and the funding within provincial jurisdiction.”

Other measures announced in Tuesday’s budget have union and labour groups in P.E.I. concerned, especially in how they will affect public services.

Debbie Buell, national vice president for the Union of Veteran’s Affairs Employees for the Charlottetown headquarters said she was disappointed there was no reversal of the recent closure of eight Veterans Affairs district offices, including the one in Prince Edward Island.

“The reaction from all the veterans I have spoken to is very sad. They feel betrayed, they feel that the way that (government) is going forward isn’t the same and they aren’t going to have that same level of service,” Buell said.

Dawn Hardy, president of the area council for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, agreed, pointing an announcement in Tuesday’s budget that eligibility for the veterans’ funeral and burial program will be expanded.

“They gave more money to veterans to pay the cost of funerals, which is a bit alarming, because what they need to is to have access to public services and to be able to speak to someone,” Hardy said.

“Giving them more money for their funeral kind of defeats the purpose.”

Hardy said she feels the unionized federal workers have been targeted by the Harper government over the last several budget cycles.

But with the closure of offices and the loss of federal jobs comes a diminishing of public services, she said.

“Public servants do all kinds of things for us, and if we don’t have a viable public service, things that we’re used to now like our health care, our schooling, all of that will disintegrate,” Hardy said.

“Federal public servants, we do a lot for our communities.”

But Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said government’s priority is to provide services to Canadians as efficiently and effectively as possible.

“We cannot keep jobs just for the sake of keeping jobs,” she said.

“Having a government job is not an economic development measure. So, we’ve had to make some really tough decisions, but we also have to balance the budget and work in the best interest of all Canadian taxpayers… As leaders of the country, and that’s why you elect politicians, you have to ensure that the money is spent in the best way possible for the greater good of the country.”

Shea felt the budget was a sensible one. She listed a number of initiatives that will be positive for the Island, including funding for small craft harbours; a recreational fish habitat program; two-year funding for the Wood Islands and Souris ferry service and money dedicated to addressing prescription drug abuse.

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Union of Veteran, Veterans Affairs, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Wood Islands

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Recent comments

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    February 14, 2014 - 19:45

    Why are comments not showing up after they have been verified . I'm getting tired of spending time typeing out comments an have they say they were sumitted onlt to never show up on the page . This has been an on going issue for the past couple weeks an needs to be addressed . Who ever is moderating these posts needs to stop trying to be a censor an when they fall withing guidelines post them . As a long time subscriber of your paper I'm not impressed one bit with this an if it continues will not be subscribing any more . Now this is the second time i wrote about this next time it goes on the face book pace for all to see . Never got a response last time an highly doubt I get one this time . Might be time to take this a step higher an pick up the phone an call the office .

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    February 14, 2014 - 19:30

    Looks like the the dog an pony show of Wes an Robert , will have to do some scrambling to balance the books without extra millions from Ottawa . They get extra an spend extra like there is no tomorrow ,well it looks like tomorrow has come ..lol an it's time to pay the piper .He needs to start a new Lottery to guess what year they will provide a balanced Budget if ever . Might even get enough revenue from it to reach their goal ..lol

  • don
    February 13, 2014 - 11:41

    derek i agree with you but i wonder how many more deals have been done that we do not know about? but what gets me is wes is mad due to the feds doing things with out his permission. how much power does wes think he has? and wes i would NOT let you look after my childs piggy bank. you are a disgrace and to call yourself a canadian is a joke. but wes is losing money and he can not stop it and that is i do you a favor you do one for me tax money saved. and the black market is going strong. but i warn islanders look out for a major gas increase and booze going up as wes needs MILLIONS. and wes as you said “These are some of the decisions that will impact my ability to balance,” Sheridan told reporters. well wes if you had NOT been so stupid and gave away free money you would have money to spare. but with your brain God help us.

  • Garth Staples
    February 12, 2014 - 15:37

    Yes there is no comparison. It is Wes all the way. A clear winner in the race to the bottom!

  • Now You Know How It Feels
    February 12, 2014 - 15:28

    “When you impact something as large as an immigrant investor fund that affects MY bottom line..."??? Uh, Wes, it's not YOUR money. It's partly mine and I want a refund. "...without any kind of consultation, it’s impactful and it’s hurtful and it makes you wonder what type of government would do this without any type of pre-knowledge or consultation?” Uh, Wes, how about the type of government that would shuv unwanted things like HST down the throats of islanders? Not to mention, they know you can't handle money. You do things like investing in gambling. Brilliant.

  • Quiet Observer
    February 12, 2014 - 13:49

    Has anyone else noticed the similarities in attitude and arrogance of the Ghiz Liberals and the Harper Tories? They are cut from the same cloth.

  • Greg Barnstable
    February 12, 2014 - 12:06

    Gee, thanks, Gail, for the little goodies granted while Harper rips the financial bottom line out of the PEI government books.

    • freddybear
      February 12, 2014 - 16:59

      Another person that is a believer in Robert and the gang, you must be well off or Libs. giving you and family more than the required weeks for EI. Provincial and City are cause of the EI problem.

    • A Liberal supporter come Hell or high water!
      February 12, 2014 - 20:43

      This person is truly a Liberal who has received a patronage job; or has several family members working for the provincial Liqour commission, highways or tourism. I wonder who read and explained the Federal budget to Wes; because I am sure that he could not read and understand it on his own. What an inept minister; who really fits well with the other similar ministers in Ghiz's cabinet!!!

  • Douglas
    February 12, 2014 - 10:56

    Here is an interesting comment from Canadian Ministry of Finance about the Provincial Nominee Program:"There is also little evidence that immigrant investors as a class are maintaining ties to Canada or making a positive economic contribution to the country." and then this:All 65,000 pending applications -- which the government estimates would have taken six years to process -- will be returned and paid fees refunded. About 70% of the backlog came from Chinese applicants. I wonder how many more were to be processed on PEI and how much money we will have to pay back to the applicants?

    • freddybear
      February 12, 2014 - 16:50

      Good vallet point. Hope they don't come looking for their money as Robert will have to call in the Police again. I hope Wes includes this in next years budget or has he invested the money in GeoSweep.

  • Fitz
    February 12, 2014 - 09:16

    Wes said this impacts his ability to balance his budget! Wes has proven over the last 6 years he has no ability for accounting! If he was working for the private sector the company would be out of business ! If he's the best we got pei is in big trouble! If Wes is doing the books at his house we should see it up for mortgage sale soon!

  • Billy
    February 12, 2014 - 08:39

    So, if he was consulted it wouldn't hurt his bottom line. Wes is trying to find ways to tell us he can not balance his budget because of the Feds. That's impactful?? , on us voters.

  • What A Surprise
    February 12, 2014 - 08:36

    “When you impact something as large as an immigrant investor fund that affects my bottom line without any kind of consultation, it’s impactful and it’s hurtful . Sorry Wes : This provinces past record in this area has shown how crooked you are . What a shame it is that someone is finally starting to look out for the taxpayer . Just goes to show Ottawa doesn't trust you & Ghiz . Wonder why , possible that our 2 billion + debt for 145,000 people is a sign that we don't have capable management here on PEI & someone has to clip your drunken sailor spending & waste . Thank you Gail & Harper in behalf of my grandchildern .

  • Unbelievable
    February 12, 2014 - 08:01

    Sheridan's words "These are some of the decisions that will impact my ability to balance,” Sheridan told reporters Tuesday evening. “When you impact something as large as an immigrant investor fund that affects my bottom line without any kind of consultation, it’s impactful and it’s hurtful and it makes you wonder what type of government would do this without any type of pre-knowledge or consultation?” Now he knows how Islanders felt when the HST was dumped on them after a election promise that there would be no HST. Now he knows how Islanders felt when pensions were changed. Now he knows how Islanders feel about cuts in education and healthcare. No he knows, but does he care?

  • Quiet Observer
    February 12, 2014 - 07:45

    And it starts - Wes blaming Ottawa for his budget mismanagement. Read into this that Wes is not going to hit his budget targets again.

  • pot meet kettle
    February 12, 2014 - 07:28

    Hmm... poor little Wessie doesn't like unilateral changes to government policies or budgets. Kind of like saying you won't implement HST and then deciding to do so anyway?

  • Lloyd
    February 12, 2014 - 06:47

    What a relief. Wes will have a built-in excuse not to balance the budget next year. Nobody believed he ever would. One can hope I guess. Build a few bingo halls and the money will fly.All the money Robert is bring back from Japan is another positive step. Don,t despair Wes it will work out in the end and you will have your pension when it is over.

  • Sick of politics
    February 12, 2014 - 06:10

    Now you know what kind of government your liberal party has been to islanders... No consultation with the people on matters that affect their bottom line!

  • unbelievable
    February 12, 2014 - 06:09

    Poor Wes, he says this will affect his attempt to balance, he has no intentions to balance, this gives him an excuse not a reason. Amazing, does he really think anyone believes him, we are $2 billion in debt and all he can do is make excuses.

  • freddybear
    February 12, 2014 - 05:16

    Here is Wes crying again over the Feds closing the PNP.If Robert, Wes, Richard and his Deputy didn't abuse this program to the extent of being corrupt, it probably would be still in place. Oh well, this is all show as Liberal Government led by Robert don't care as most of their colleagues have got enough money out of this program. Wes has being telling Islanders for years that he is going to balance the Provincial Budget. I am afraid that he is dreaming in technicolor as he just spent more than 150k on bingo, how did this get thru the legislature last year. Is this spending outside the budget, if it is than Wes will never balanced the budget until the Feds give a handout of over 2b to cover our overall debt. Thanks Robert ? History will not be kind.

  • Now you know
    February 11, 2014 - 23:44

    Now you know how it feels to get something rammed Down your throat without consultation. Just like YOU did with HST , pension reform , plan b , fees doubled for government services , school and hospital closures , deep cuts in all government departments and services , and YOU still can't balance the books.. YOUR party abused federal funding for your supporters and now pei is in disaray because of YOU and now your being slapped and it looks good on ya!!! You Wes are a FAILURE and a Waste of skin!!!!

  • don
    February 11, 2014 - 22:18

    major change was made with no prior consultation with the provinces doesn’t sit well with P.E.I.’s finance minister. well wes i did not know that the federal government had to get your ok to do the budget? and you should have no trouble balancing the books by telling the liberals that you gave the money to that you DEMAND they give it back. plus where is our 10 mill from OCI? plus all the millions you have wrote off by certain farmers on PEI. wes you SCREWED UP you can NOT blame the money trouble on the feds only you and ghiz are to blame. stand up like a real man if you can and tell islanders you screwed up. but we know only a REAL MAN can do it so that leaves you out.

    • derek
      February 12, 2014 - 14:44

      HST, Plan B, PNP, just the tip of the iceberg of bad mismanagement of funds. Wes couldn't like the boots that Flaharty wears. He is way out of his league. Using the word "my"? This is his mentality, "my"money, well you certainly spend it like it's not "my" money wes.