The government of Prince Edward Island will begin planning for the redevelopment of Kings County Memorial Hospital next year and will no longer purchase school buses powered by fossil fuels.
Both commitments were part of the provincial capital budget, tabled by Finance Minister Darlene Compton in the Legislature on Tuesday.
Speaking to the media behind closed doors before tabling the budget, Compton stressed that the capital budget is about the future.
âThe capital budget is about things that last,â she said, ânot just next year but into the futureâ.
With particular reference to the future, one of the three themes of the budget is climate action and sustainability. It was in this section that Compton announced the province’s plans to purchase new school buses.
“This government is committed to making all new school buses electric,” said Compton.
Investing $ 40.3 million in electric school buses over the next five years will see half of the province’s school buses run on electricity by 2027.
Health and education
An Island wellbeing theme includes funding for the new Kings County Hospital.
The capital budget includes a five-year plan, with $ 13.3 million for the hospital. Planning will begin in the next fiscal year. As this planning progresses, the total cost of the hospital will be determined.
The budget provides $ 7.5 million for ventilation systems for 10 Island schools that currently do not have one. This work will be spread over the next two budget years. In the current year, $ 225,000 has been set aside for HEPA filters for classrooms without mechanical ventilation, totaling 150 to 175 units.
Air quality in schools has been an issue during the pandemic, mechanical ventilation has been shown to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The budget includes $ 60.3 million to expand a network of community health centers, as a physical component of the government’s plan to provide access to primary care in medical homes and neighborhoods. This includes an additional $ 13.6 million to build and house a new center in Summerside. The government is also planning new centers in Alberton, west Prince, as well as Queens County and eastern PEI.
The province is adding $ 35 million to its housing support budget, for a total of $ 60.7 million over five years.
These expenditures include plans for more than 100 new social housing units.
Compton said the province, recognizing that building from scratch will be too slow, is looking for ways to have units ready for islanders to relocate as soon as possible. This could include the purchase of units currently under construction by the developers.
âWe keep looking for ways to be innovative,â Compton said.
The opposition “reserves” the applause
As usual, the biggest budget item is for bridges and roads, with $ 190 million reserved over five years, $ 48.5 million in 2022-2023.
The money will go to paving, replacing and repairing bridges. The budget made no mention of specific projects.
Green MP and opposition finance critic Hannah Bell said she was happy to see a financial commitment to housing, but had heard the promise before.
“There was a commitment last year and we actually haven’t spent most of that money, so until we see buildings going up I’m going to reserve my applause,” she said. declared.
Bell also criticized the government for falling behind in its commitment to replace the mental health campus at Hillsborough Hospital in Charlottetown.
“It’s gone from shovels in the ground on Day 1 to we’re still years away and we can’t even keep up with the previous government’s plan.”