(Halifax/Charlottetown)—According to economist, Angella MacEwen, the co-author of a new report released today, "Prince Edward Island cannot afford to allow people to live in poverty any longer. While thousands of Islanders face the daily stress and consequences of not being able to make ends meet, poverty is costing $315 million per year on PEI."
Using the most recent data (2009), MacEwen and co-author Christine Saulnier, estimate that the direct cost of poverty for the PEI government is just under 100 million dollars per year – and that these costs account for 6.7% of the 2009/10 PEI government budget. The authors conclude that: "This is a significant amount of money that could be reallocated to break the cycle of poverty and in fact help all Island families who are struggling with the increased costs of daily life."
Mary Boyd, Director of the Mackillop Centre for Social Justice and Poverty Bites is especially concerned that, "the government not underestimate the problem of poverty on PEI," and further states: "It is so critical that the PEI government act to get at the root causes of poverty including ill health. This report shows that the government could reallocate $40 million per year in public health care spending alone if poverty was eliminated for the poorest 20% of Islanders. Clearly, delayed action to address poverty in PEI is very costly to government directly and to society more broadly."
The Cost of Poverty in PEI report findings are as follows:
- Poverty costs the PEI government 100 million dollars per year.
- These costs accounted for 6.7% of the 2009/10 PEI government budget.
- Health care spending on poverty alone costs the government $40 million per year, which represents 6.8% of the public health care spending (in 2009).
- When the costs to government are added to the broader costs to the economy, the total cost of poverty for the province is $315 million dollars, which is equivalent to 7.6% of Prince Edward Island’s GDP (gross domestic product or size of its economy). This corresponds to $2,700 per person, per year.
- Investing in a comprehensive plan to alleviate poverty could cost as little as half as much as the quantifiable costs of poverty.
The Cost of Poverty in Prince Edward Island (2011), can be downloaded free here: www.policyalternatives.ca
For media inquiries, please call Mary Boyd at (902) 388-2693 or 892-9074.
This report is released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-NS in partnership with the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice, as well as Poverty Bites.
The CCPA is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice. The Nova Scotia office located in Halifax, publishes on public policy issues in the Maritimes.
MacKillop Centre for Social Justice, located in Charlottetown, is a non-profit, non-partisan Centre for research, education and mobilization on issues of social justice at local, regional, national and international levels.
Poverty Bites is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to eliminate poverty through its advocacy for a Poverty Eradication Strategy for P.E.I.