As talks of a late spring election are circulating, this provincial budget is certainly not attempting to dispel these rumours. CUPE PEI notes the positive investments made in child care, health and education. However, the rollout remains questionable.

“I commend the initiative to invest in our front-line workers, such as educational assistants, child care and health-care workers. I hope this will mean tangible wage increases,” noted Leonard Crawford, President of CUPE PEI.

Unfortunately, the Government is staying the course on funding private, rather than public, long-term care beds.

“Subsidizing 50 new beds does not necessarily mean 50 new spots,” said Crawford. “It will likely mean that current private providers receive more money to cover their existing beds that were not subsidized. This does not alleviate pressure on our healthcare system, nor does it mean seniors will have more affordable spaces in long-term care establishments,” added Crawford.

Close to $8.4 million will go to create housing units, but they are not targeted for seniors, nor will they be in public infrastructure.

“The 400 new child care spaces and money for front-line child care workers is good news, but the government could have funded over 100 more spaces and still have a surplus. It’s too bad the Liberals have preferred electoral posturing over immediate needs, said Crawford.

Many of the big-ticket items, such as the $32 million invested in healthcare, are simply federal transfer funds and do not represent new provincial investments. The PEI Health Coalition, of which CUPE PEI is a member, recommends a 6 per cent increase in investment for an optimal healthcare system in PEI, but the 2018-2019 budget only plans for a 4.8 per cent increase.