P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan believes there are five ingredients for Prince Edward Island to achieve economic success, and he remains firmly optimistic about the year ahead, despite tumbling world markets and a slumping national economy.
MacLauchlan delivered his first state-of-the-province address Monday evening in Charlottetown at the Rotary clubs of P.E.I. annual dinner.
He addressed head-on the current worldwide "economic turbulence," noting growth projections for 2016 in Canada have already greatly shifted from the start of the year just three weeks ago.
This, coupled with declining oil prices and a depressed Canadian dollar, will have impacts on P.E.I., MacLauchlan said.
He vowed the province’s economy will be his government’s greatest priority and outlined opportunities for P.E.I. to buck national downward trends and achieve economic success in 2016.
“Prince Edward Island does not need to be a victim or a follower of national or global economic trends," MacLauchlan said. "If we identify our best opportunities and work together to achieve the most that we can, the Prince Edward Island economy should be able to do relatively well, especially in challenging times.”
He pointed to his affinity for cooking and listed five key ingredients he believes would lead to economic success in Prince Edward Island:
1. Grow the economy at a greater rate than the national average.
2. "Hustle" and promote companies and sectors that will boost positive economic results for P.E.I.
3. Acknowledge and support leaders and entrepreneurs who will drive success.
4. Ensure the Island has a top-notch workforce to build on P.E.I.’s reputation for delivering quality goods and services.
5. Develop and promote P.E.I.’s brand and reputation more strongly and consistently across the country and the world.
The best way to help the economy is to reduce the province’s trade gap, which is currently at $1.3 billion, MacLauchlan said.
“To do so, we must increase our exports and look for every opportunity we can find to spend more locally and to do business with each other.”
MacLauchlan highlighted success stories of many local businesses, both urban and rural.
He noted the province boasts job opportunities in emerging sectors, like bioscience, aerospace and information technology, and that more must be done to encourage young people they can build successful careers in Canada’s smallest province.
As for tangible ways to accomplish these goals, MacLauchlan announced he and Ontario are leading a trade mission to India in February to help local businesses connect with global companies for exports.
Another Atlantic trade mission to Europe in June will also help Island companies ensure they get the full benefit from the new Canada-European trade agreement.
The province will also hold a new six-part export readiness program for Island companies interested in growing or beginning to export. A new website called Work P.E.I. will also be launched to help link job seekers with companies looking to hire.
MacLauchlan further reiterated his commitment to presenting a balanced budget in the spring.
“Prince Edward Island has a modern, well-balanced economy. We have high-quality products and services, we must hustle to make the next sale and to tie into new customers and supply chains,” MacLauchlan said.
“With those commitments and ingredients in place, and with a shared sense of purpose and determination to success, Prince Edward Island will have a prosperous 2016.”
Premier Wade MacLauchlan, centre, had a chance to visit with former governor for Rotary District 7820 Duncan Conrad, left, and Charlottetown Rotary member Anne Gillis before delivering his state of the province address at the Delta Prince Edward last night.
©MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN