Myers accuses government of redirecting $2M from social assistance to Innovation department

Teresa Wright
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Prince Edward Island premier Robert Ghiz and Valerie Docherty, minister of community services and seniors, walk to the legislature.

A reduction of close to $2 million from the social services budget was once again a topic of heated debate today, with Opposition Leader Steven Myers accusing government of redirecting this money into another department.

The P.E.I. government left $2.3 million unspent in social assistance and other support payments last year and cut its budget this year for social programs by close to $2 million.

Docherty says the number of social assistance clients has dropped by 200 over the last two years.

But Myers pointed to a $2 million special warrant issued to the department of Innovation for spending above and beyond its budget last year.

“This $2 million warrant that you got, is that where the social services money that the minister should have spent on Islanders that are in need went?”

Innovation Minister Allen Roach explained the money didn’t come from the social assistance budget. The money was needed to assist employers with job creation.

Premier Robert Ghiz then stood and accused Myers of simply trying to grab headlines with this line of questioning.

“People sit at home and watch the 10 second clip, if I was sitting at home and I watched the 10-second clip and I stood up and listened to the leader of the Opposition who said that $2 million was taken from one department, given to Innovation so that they can pay their friends, if you hear that for 10 seconds, that’s what’s going to happen,” Ghiz said.

“I ask him to take a responsible approach now.”

But Myers continued to raise concern over how difficult it is for Islanders in financial need to access social assistance.

He says many Islanders have told them they have been turned away because they do not meet the strict criteria.

Docherty said the criteria to access social assistance has not changed for the last 10 years.

“What we need to do is make changes in the rates that we’re providing to our vulnerable Islanders, and we are working on that and have been doing it,” she said.

“If people are turned away, it means they do not meet the criteria.”

But Myers says 10 years is too long to wait to review the rules by which Islanders are assessed for social assistance.

“Why are you hiding behind these outdated criteria to deprive Islanders when they need it the most?”

Docherty acknowledged there are likely a number of Islanders who are just outside the criteria, but says they are constantly reviewing their rules and policies.




Organizations: Department of Innovation

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Truth Seeker
    Truth Seeker
    April 23, 2014 - 09:35

    It's a circus filled with lacklustre performers. I feel like we're all in the same bad movie. I'm embarrassed for all of us. It's shameful and sad.

  • sammy
    April 23, 2014 - 06:53

    2 million will be nothing compared to the clawback from the Federal Govt when the LMDA/LDA money stops for Skills Development. The province get around 26 million every year to run this program and the federal funding is now gone. There are a lot of ppl in the department of Innovation that will be looking for a place to land very soon (contracts expire April 2014). Also funding will dry up for external Career Development company with the termination of this federal gravy train.

  • Observer
    April 23, 2014 - 06:41

    Steven Myers really needs to take his head out of the sand!! He is using this issue to gain the votes of the people who are not satisfied with the Social Service. One minute he is exasperating about the Liberals overspending and the next about underspending. Clearly he doesn't have a clue about running a government. We, the public, are sick of seeing him spouting off in the House, demanding resignations , on issues he does not have a clue. He may as well enjoy his theatrics now, as hard as it is to watch, as he will never get elected in the next election. Such a fool!!

    • bulldog
      April 23, 2014 - 11:48

      Please don't speak for the public as you are only one of 140, 000k.Who gives you the right to speak for the populace. It is obvious that this money was transfer from social assistance to the innovation department as Ghiz and bandits have no friends in the lower class. This money was used for the friends in high places, the ones that donate to the party.

    April 23, 2014 - 05:58

    This is how hard up Myers is to complain about something...a Tory complaining not enough money is going to welfare!!!Must have hit his head and thinks he is NDP or Liberal, parties that protect the less fortunate. Harper will not be impressed, no senate seat for you ,ya big lefty.

  • Craig
    April 23, 2014 - 05:01

    Doherty comes a cross to me as a sincere person and means well but does not have the ability to do this job! To say that islanders did not need or ask for help that's why there was money left over in her budget is either a slip up or ignorance! Just say you Made a mistake and fix it

  • Erica
    April 22, 2014 - 19:50

    Take the money. Supply drug and paternity tests and it'd drop even more.

    • No way
      April 22, 2014 - 20:37

      If abortion is available, paternity tests are unneeded. The birth of a child is 100% a woman's choice. If a man has no say in whether an abortion takes place, he should have no responsibility if one does not. You can't have it both ways. Either it is all the woman's choice or it is not.

  • host
    April 22, 2014 - 18:35

    there is only one word, --- SHAMEFUL--- giving this money to Innovation to blow away, - SHAMEFUL

  • Garth Staples
    April 22, 2014 - 17:42

    Docherty says the number of social assistance clients has dropped by 200 over the last two years.----------------------------------------------------- That's because many of them got jobs in Alberta. Thank heavens for AB.

  • Outraged
    April 22, 2014 - 17:22

    Using the figures from TEN YEARS AGO to allow people to qualify for Social Assistance. And then claim they've saved the day because fewer people are applying. Outrageously shameful. How do Doherty and Ghiz sleep at night?

  • Islander
    April 22, 2014 - 16:43

    Give it up Myers you are rambling on about nothing. Shoot your mouth of wisely and get into the PNP scandal