© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Innovation Minister Allen Roach, right, walks into the P.E.I. legislature on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 along with Tourism Minister Robert Henderson. Roach was under fire for the P.E.I. government's job creation policies.
The Robert Ghiz government was forced to defend its $200-million prosperity strategy first launched in 2008 – a strategy government now says was a stepping stone to building up new business sectors in P.E.I.
When first announced in April of 2008, government officials lauded the plan as a way to create 2,600 new, high-paying jobs.
During question period today in the legislature, Opposition Leader Steven Myers pointed to statements made by deputy minister Micheal Mayne when he told media in 2008 the average weekly salary in P.E.I. would be highest in the country by 2014 as a result of this prosperity strategy.
“When the prosperity strategy came in, we had the lowest wages in all of Canada. Well, guess what? Today we have the lowest wages in all of Canada,” Myers said.
“Question to the minister - will you admit that your pie in the sky plan failed?”
Innovation Minister Allen Roach said he believes it was ‘a good stepping board’ for the province.
He spoke at length of the exponential growth of the bioscience industry in P.E.I. – one of the four key sectors the prosperity strategy aimed to build.
“The bioscience cluster on Prince Edward Island is now one of the most important export sectors,” Roach said, reading from an article published in the New Brunswick-based newspaper, the Telegraph-Journal.
“I’m quite proud of our bioscience cluster and I’m extremely happy that it’s there and with the recognition that it’s getting around the world.”
Myers pressed government for an actual analysis of the prosperity strategy, in order that Islanders may be able to measure its success.
But Roach sidestepped this question, saying instead government always carefully evaluates all businesses it invests in.
And over the last year, Roach says the province has supported 86 P.E.I. companies, which has, in turn, helped them grow employment.
“We certainly believe the private sector is the place for job growth and that’s why we support all private sector companies in Prince Edward Island with a host of programs through tax incentives, labour rebates and various other programs,” Roach said.
“I think we’re certainly going down the right road on this and I’m very proud of our record on working with the private sector so that they can create jobs, real jobs.”