Over the past number of weeks, there has been a lot of attention paid to the way the federal and provincial governments support literacy and training. To my mind, this is a valuable discussion - because it helps to raise awareness of the programs and services that are available to Islanders.
Of course, education is the responsibility of the provincial government. That's one of the reasons why it was so appropriate when the province agreed to provide $150,000 operational funding to the Prince Edward Island Literacy Alliance.
Given the importance of that organization - and the people it helps - I believe that Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister Sonny Gallant, and then Education Minister Doug Currie deserve credit for dedicating resources to the Alliance's operations.
And, of course, this support is entirely appropriate. Because, as I said earlier, under our constitution, direct responsibility for education resides with the provinces and it is important to remember that the federal government plays a major role in supporting these activities.
In fact, the federal government transfers roughly $30 million to the province of Prince Edward Island every year to fund training and education. To put that number into perspective, that is the equivalent of $800 for every family of four on Prince Edward Island - which is a significant investment. As a result of that commitment, Islanders have an increasingly wide choice when it comes to employment.
In addition, the federal government helps out with direct training for Islanders.
In my own riding of Egmont, that direct assistance worked out to over $2.6 million this year, and that money goes into a variety of programs that assist Islanders to excel in the world of employment. For instance, I am very proud of our government's role with the Stepping Stones to Success Program - which helps disadvantaged young people to develop work skills that will help them throughout their lives.
As an elected representative, I believe that these types of initiatives are very important - and in fact, my personal view is that government has to do all it can to help people with skills development and education. As a province, our economic prosperity depends on a population that is well-trained and able to take advantage of a changing world.
In my view, both the federal and provincial governments understand that reality, and, of course, that is why Ottawa invests so much - roughly $30 million per year - into direct training and skills development programs for Islanders.
Ultimately, all of these programs and services are designed to help individual Islanders address their very specific and unique needs.
Additionally, meeting those unique needs requires the right kind of partnership – between Ottawa, the provincial government and community groups. To my mind, we are achieving those goals – and as a result, Islanders are able to more easily gain access to the training programs they need.
- Bobby Morrissey is the Member of Parliament for Egmont