Bouquets & Brickbats for provincial budget

Above:  BDO sponsor Pat McSweeney (right) with the Hon. Allen Roach

The GSCC’s Finance Committee prepared their own analysis of this year’s provincial budget in time for our annual breakfast, sponsored by BDO Canada.  While the committee had some good things to say about it, they also expressed some dissapointment.

See 2016 GSCC Budget Highlights

See Sponsor BDO budget response

The following article appeared in the Journal Pioneer.

Finance minister talks budget during meeting with Summerside chamber

Finance Minister Allen Roach rolled into Summerside recently to present his government’s latest budget to members of the local business community.
The Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce traditionally hosts a post-budget breakfast with the Finance minister and Roache’s 2016/2017 estimates, released April 19, provided plenty to talk about.

Roach’s presentation was wide-ranging, touching on increases in spending on a number of departments and programs. Some of the highlights included, the projected deficit for 2016 of $9.6 million, a forecasted $9.2-million surplus for 2017, the increase of HST by one per cent, effective Oct. 1, and various other ‘tax fairness measures’ to help offset the HST hike.

But it was during the question and answer session where Roach got a real sense of what some in the community thought of the budget.

Local lawyer Derek Key asked the minister why ambulatory care at Prince County Hospital has been overlooked again for any kind of capital improvements.

“Back in 2000 when the Prince County Hospital was built, ambulatory care was built for a certain number of visitation at that time; that has increased now by 100 per cent,” said Key.

Roach responded that he wouldn’t “propose to tell the minister of Health how to spend his money,” but did promise to raise the issue with his colleague at cabinet.

The most pointed question of the event came from businessman Robert Gallant, who stressed many of the pressures small businesses are facing from this budget and previous ones, including a sharp rise in minimum wage and the HST increase.

“Somewhere along the way the small businesses, which employ most of the people on P.E.I., have got to get some kind of breaks rather than keep getting hit. Because we can’t absorb it,” said Gallant.

He added that he’s had to cut back on the amount of money he gives to philanthropic causes simply because his costs have risen so much in recent years.

“I have to make a cut in order to pay all the things you guys are forcing on us,” he said.

Roach responded by saying that government is striving to reach a balanced budget and when that happens, hopefully in 2017, then they will be able to consider things like more programs to help small businesses.

“We’re not going to get there all at once, but that is the direction we’re going in. I believe the only way for a province of our size, and the revenues that we’re able to collect, is slow and steady,” said Roach.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean