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

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - THE GUARDIAN dstew­art@the­ Twit­­wart

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’’.

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