P.E.I. finance minister hopes to get details on infrastructure program

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 19, 2015

Finance Minister Allen Roach looks over some documents at the Coles Building, Charlottetown, while Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac looks on.

©Heather Taweel/The Guardian

Finance Minister Allen Roach hoping to find out more details during a meeting of the country’s finance ministers in Ottawa.

P.E.I. Finance Minister Allen Roach says he is hoping to find out more details about how the federal government’s promised infrastructure money will being rolling out to the provinces during a meeting of the country’s finance ministers next week in Ottawa.

Roach says he is looking forward to a “new era of co-operation” with the change in federal government this fall.

He says he hopes the billions of dollars promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the election campaign for infrastructure will be geared toward initiatives that will help boost the province’s economy in the long-term.

The Island also hopes some flexibility to conditions placed on infrastructure funding programs can be negotiated to ensure P.E.I. can take full advantage of the dollars Ottawa has pledged.

“What I really want to look at is what kind of infrastructure improvements that we can look at that will suit our economy and really build our economy, make our economy move forward,” Roach said.

“Not necessarily bricks and mortar for the sake of bricks and mortar but infrastructure dollars that are going to help drive our economy here in Prince Edward Island.”

He suggested emerging sectors such as bioscience would benefit from infrastructure investments while also building future potential that could help improve the province’s economy and, in turn, reduce the province’s dependence on Ottawa.

But Roach says he will also be pushing for changes to the funding formulas attached to federal transfers.

Provincial officials have argued transfer payments to P.E.I. have been dwindling in recent years.

“We’d certainly like to recognize what each province has to bring, what the challenges are for each province, because let’s face it, they are different for each province,” he said.

“We’d simply like to see an adjustment in the formulary that’s going to be more favourable to Prince Edward Island, to the needs and to some of the struggles that we have here.”

During the meetings, Roach says he will also be supporting work on the Canadian Pension Plan to ensure Canadians are saving adequately for their retirements as well ensuring the Canada Child Benefit stays with low-income families who need it most.