SUMMERSIDE – The federal budget addresses the major concern that Islanders and Canadians have - jobs, says federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea.
© Guardian photo by Teresa Wright
Egmont MP Gail Shea in her Charlottetown office
“People, first and foremost, want jobs,” the minister said. “We’ve put a lot of emphasis on job creation and keeping taxes low.”
She said the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will be reviewing their programs to try and make their investments in projects that are tied more closely to job creation.
“You see that as a theme through the whole budget book, that any investments that we’re making in research and development in educational programs, we’d like to have an outcome of jobs at the end of it,” she said.
Shea said for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, there has been provisions laid out that will help Islanders.
“An increase of $40 million in the small crafts and harbour budget is important to the industry on P.E.I.,” she said. “We have renewed the recreational fish habitat conservation program with a $15 million commitment over two years. This allowed us to do a lot of habitat restoration programsaround the country for in land waterways that serve the recreation fishery.”
Shea said there is a new tax credit for search and rescue volunteers.
“We have a pretty big ground search and rescue unit on Prince Edward Island,” she said. “We also have Coast Guard auxiliaries that participate in search and rescue. This is a tax credit that would be extended to them.”
The minister said she is pleased to see money in the budget to fight prescription drug abuse.
“We’ve heard how that is an issue on Prince Edward Island,” she said. “We also have an additional $5 million in the New Horizons for Seniors program. That’s a program that allows funding for seniors to become active in their communities through various projects. I have participated in making announcements on a number of these projects and they were all very worthwhile. They’re projects that get seniors out of their homes and involved in the community.”
She said there are programs in the budget to assist those with disabilities to find work along with programs for apprentices.
“We’re going to extend the Canada Student Loan Program to apprentices and that will be on an interest free basis. There will also be an expansion of the Canada Student Loans Program which would exempt vehicles in the program. This is something that students came to Ottawa to lobby for. They had to take vehicles into account when applying when in fact they needed the vehicle to get back and forth to university.”
She said there is a program that will promote consumerawareness of Canadian products, encouraging Canadians that there are made in Canada products on the shelves for their consumption.
“The budget is sensible and it does provide for services to Canadians and a lot of support for economic growth, which is something all Canadians benefit from, including Prince Edward Islanders,” Shea said. “It ensures that we’re going to have a balanced budget in 2015 which is something else that we all benefit from. By having a balanced budget we end up payingless interest on our debt. We can get our debt down, keep our interest rates low and keep taxes low.”