The Prince Edward Island government plans to spend more than $3.2 billion for its 2024-2025 operating budget, focusing on health care, housing, and affordability.

According to a Thursday news release from the province, the government is projecting revenues at $3.15 billion and expenditures at $3.23 billion, resulting in an estimated deficit of $85 million.

The province's finance minister said the $85 million deficit is required to deliver the services they want, but the opposition says there's nothing new to it.

Last December, the government provided an update on its 2023-2024 budget, saying the deficit would land around $98.6 million.

The single biggest line in the budget is, unsurprisingly, health care at $1.13 billion, more than a third of the total budget spending.

Next are education at $433 million and transportation and infrastructure at $241 million.

There’s little in the way of new announcements in the document, but there are increases in current programs.

“I would say that that is showing focus of our government. That’s showing that we’re not really changing channels too much,” said Jill Burridge, finance minister. “That we’re focused on what needs to be done here on P.E.I. and those streams have not changed, health care, housing, and affordability.”

However, it does include a newly announced child benefit, $30 per month for families making less than $45,000 per year, though the details of that program haven’t yet been finalized.

Opposition Liberals say there’s nothing new to the budget.

“It seems that it lacks vision, creativity, there’s no new, bold ideas in it, which leads me to believe that this government just isn’t up to the job,” Hal Perry, P.E.I. Liberal leader.

Opposition Greens agree there isn’t much to it. They say the issues are clear but the answers are lacking.

“It’s almost as if they’re throwing their hands up in the air themselves, because they don’t know what to do,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, P.E.I. Green finance critic. “So it’s very distressing, particularly for those of us who, five years ago, pointed out that there were things you could and should do if you want to resolve these problems, and government chose not to do that.”

The finance minister said, despite the deficit, the province’s debt to GDP ratio will remain below their 30 per cent target.

P.E.I.’s net debt will reach just over $3 billion by the end of this fiscal year. Debt interest payments will cost Islanders $167 million this year.

The projected deficit is expected to decrease over the next three years; however there isn’t a plan to return to balanced budgets over that timeframe.

The budget also made room for:

  • $14.6 million for tax system changes
  • $10 million for affordable units
  • $7 million to bring more front-line staff to the education system
  • $6.9 million to expand shelter spaces
  • $6.7 million for tax rebates for builders
  • $2.4 million to implement the Gender-based Violence Action Plan
  • $1 million for school food programs
  • $500,000 to expand the tourism season

For more Prince Edward Island news visit our dedicated provincial page.