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Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce hosts finance minister at post-provincial budget breakfast

Finance Minister Darlene Compton presents a post-provincial budget summary to members of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning.
Finance Minister Darlene Compton presents a post-provincial budget summary to members of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning. - Millicent McKay
SLEMON PARK, P.E.I. —

Despite any positives in its 2019/2020 provincial budget, the pressure is still on the newly-minted Progressive Conservative government of Dennis King to keep its promises. 

"There were a lot of positives [in Tuesday's budget document] for the business community, with that 0.5 per cent [business] tax reduction. Of course, we need to keep that pressure to get it down to the one per cent," said Thane Smallwood, president of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday at the chamber's post-budget breakfast with the finance minister. 

"That and the personal exception going to $10,000 is good. And also, investments in health and education. We're all inhabitants on P.E.I. and we need to have that good foundation of health and education, that's what makes people want to work and live in rural P.E.I., and stay here long term." 

Smallwood was one of about 50 attendees to the breakfast which had Finance Minister Darlene Compton break down this week's budget announcement. 

"I think in today's environment where we have to have collaboration between the three parties and the fact that, as a business community and Island, we need a stable government over the next number of years, it was, in general, a good budget," said the minister.

After her presentation, Compton was questioned about funding for mental health facilities in Charlottetown, the need for better infrastructure for agricultural businesses in Prince County, and whether the possibility of seeing a resource like the Summerside Regional Development Corporation start up again was possible. 

She was also questioned about the government's promise to cut small business tax rates to one per cent. 

"The [0.5 per cent decrease in January 2020] is definitely just the first step. It's a promise we've made and one we intend to keep. There were some, let's say, demands that came forward in both health and education that we felt we needed to address immediately, especially with front line teachers, but it's a promise we've made and we intend to keep it." 

When asked how the budget could impact the lives of Islanders in Summerside and Prince County, Compton said the government's focus was a budget for all Islanders. 

"It doesn't matter where you live on P.E.I. it's going to impact you. The primary focuses were on healthcare, education and social programs."

Compton said a major take away for the Island's business community is that the economy is doing well. 

"We have a modest surplus and our plan is to continue that in the next years. We've started on the reduction to small business tax. 

She said the collaboration between the three provincial political parties on the provincial budget bodes well for the business community. 

"Each party has input into what the budget [contains] every department comes forward with their asks and their wants. So to have the input of both the opposition and the third party in those decisions is paramount to having a good government for the province," said Compton.


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