Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s first speech from the throne has been tabled and includes a number of big picture ideas for growing Prince Edward Island’s economy and population with increased accountability and long-term planning measures for the future of the province.
The speech is, in its essence, a roadmap for the next four years of MacLauchlan’s mandate.
Many of measures announced in the document were part of his party’s recent election campaign platform – such as a paramedicine pilot program in eastern Kings and a cap on generic drugs for Islanders without private drug coverage.
The speech also announces plans for a number of upcoming strategies, which he intends to develop using feedback and partnership from Islanders and stakeholders.
MacLauchlan says in the speech this is part of a ‘new era of engagement’ in P.E.I.
A mental health strategy, a white paper on democratic renewal, a poverty reduction strategy and a repatriation strategy to repatriate Islanders living away are just some of the ways in which MacLauchlan’s new government will be reaching out to Islanders for input on long-term planning in a number of areas.
On the economy side, MacLauchlan reiterates previous commitments to launch an aggressive prospecting and sales strategy called Sales Force P.E.I. to grow the province’s exports.
Strategic emphasis will also be placed on the Island’s food producing and development sectors in an effort to brand P.E.I. nationally and internationally as Canada’s Food Island.
The speech stresses government’s intention to live within its means, shrinking spending in an effort to do more with less.
In that vein, a proposal will be brought forward to reduce MLA severance packages and increase oversight over expense claims.
In spite of these belt-tightening initiatives, MacLauchlan says in the speech investment and development in front-line services will be continued.
In an effort to increase accountability, MacLauchlan says the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act will be reviewed and all parts of the legislature will be brought under the purview of the auditor general.
A whistleblower protection policy will be developed and more robust government information will be released, much like the more detailed expense disclosures implemented prior to the election for ministers, senior officials and political staff.
There are also numerous references to engaging and involving youth in many of these new strategies and initiatives.
More details to come later online and in our print and e-editions
The P.E.I. legislature has been moved to the Coles Building while renovations are underway at Province House.
©Heather Taweel/The Guardian