Money will be there, if needed
Opposition charges $10 million taken out of insurance for farmers to balance books; minister says help still there for growers
Money to help P.E.I. farmers in a crisis shouldn’t be used to balance government’s books, the Opposition charges.
During question period in the P.E.I. legislature recently, SourisElmira MLA Colin LaVie pointed out a line item in the budget that shows $10 million was moved out of a crop insurance fund that farmers, the province and the federal government pay into.
LaVie says government moved that $10 million out of crop insurance and is counting it as revenue against the deficit.
He’s referring to programs like AgriInsurance and AgriInvest, money designed to help growers out in a time of need.
Agriculture Minister Alan McIsaac explains that dollars are moved around within the budget depending on where the need might be, but assured the house that, if needed, the crop insurance money will be there.
“When you put investment into that, such as the lime subsidy, the seed grants, things like that, when they’re needed there, they are there,’’ McIsaac said. “If they’re not needed there, we move them to other areas of need or where we see the need may be to encourage farmers to try other programs as such.’’
LaVie told The Guardian that the province shouldn’t be allowed to move the money anywhere.
“They are using somebody else’s money to shore up revenue against the deficit,’’ LaVie said. “That money should be left there; that’s (the farmers’) money.’’
LaVie said now if government has to access that money for farmers it’s going to have to take it from somewhere else.
“Somebody else is going suffer.’’
McIsaac said the idea behind the insurance program is, if there is a need for insurance at the end of the crop year the support will be there.
“We feel very safe and secure in the fact that the dollars we needed will be there. We will make sure they are there if the farmers need that in time to draw upon, just like in any other insurance policy,’’
to the minister said.
LaVie said either government’s deficit is $10 million worse or it lifted the money from insurance premiums.
“They’re cooking the books . . . to make (their) books look good,’’ LaVie said.
McIsaac reiterated that dollars are moved around for investment to ensure and help grow the agricultural economy and “if the dollars are needed, they will be there in the end’’.