Prince Edward Islanders are heading to the polls for a provincial election this spring, with voting day set for Monday, April 3.

Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King made the official announcement Monday evening at his nomination meeting, as he became the final candidate to be nominated to run in the 2023 provincial election for the party.

He confirmed the news to candidates and supporters gathered at Winsloe United Church in his district of Brackley-Hunter River, surrounded by signs reading: “PC: With you, for you.”

The election call came after months of speculation about a possible spring election, at kitchen tables and coffee shops as well as in the halls of the legislature.

King all but guaranteed it this winter, dropping hints here and there that the PCs were getting ready — most recently in an interview after the party nominated its first candidate in the city of Summerside. 

Prince Edward Island does have fixed election legislation setting the next voting date as Oct. 2, 2023, but King exercised his right as premier to trigger it early.

Who is running so far?

As of Monday evening, the Progressive Conservatives were the only party to have a full slate of 27 candidates nominated and ready to run.

The other parties are planning more nomination meetings in the coming days.

Here is the breakdown so far of how many people have declared their intention to run for each of the other major parties (nominated or soon-to-be-nominated):

  • The Greens under Peter Bevan-Baker have 14 of 27. 
  • The Liberals led by Sharon Cameron have 19 of 27.
  • The NDP under Michelle Neill have 13 of 27.

The Island Party has also announced it plans to field candidates in the race, with a recent news release saying it will call for “responsible and transparent government.” 

The issues heading in 

There will likely be more focused debate on hot-button issues this time around. Back in 2019, the province had a full slate of topics of concern, of course, but there was also a referendum on proportional representation tied to the vote.

This time, expect to see some of the same issues debated in 2019 return in an even more pressing manner, including:

  • Health care and doctor shortages.
  • Housing and homelessness.
  • Inflation, poverty, wages and the economy. 
  • Environment, climate change and shoreline protection.

Health care and doctor shortages are issues that affect most Islanders, with more than 28,000 people and counting on the P.E.I. patient registry. Combine that with a shortage of doctors in many parts of the province, leading to hospital closures in rural parts of P.E.I. and extremely crunched ERs at both Summerside’s Prince County Hospital and Charlottetown’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Also in the health care file is the COVID-19 pandemic that has dominated global attention since the winter of 2020 and is still claiming lives on P.E.I. 

Man at podium surrounded by people.
Dennis King surrounded by his party’s candidates at the election announcement meeting in Winsloe South. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

Housing and homelessness are an all-party priority heading into this election. On housing, increasing rents and a desperately short supply of units have squeezed the tenant population, with rising house prices pushing ownership out of reach for many Islanders. At the same time, more people have been living in tents, on couches, in cars, or at outreach centres and emergency shelters — like the one that opened in Charlottetown last December.

Inflation has drained the resources of Islanders on nearly every bill, particularly when it comes to grocery shopping and buying gas and home heating fuel. Rent and mortgage rates are also way up, squeezing the budgets and putting more people on the poverty line. Use of food banks is at a historic high, with more and more rural populations installing community fridges to help their neighbours.

In some ways, major storms bookended the last four years of governance, with post-tropical storm Dorian in 2019 and post-tropical storm Fiona in 2022 mercilessly pummelling Prince Edward Island. The unprecedented became precedented as all levels of government raced to rework and reinforce their climate change policies.

Elections P.E.I. has sent out voter information cards across the province ahead of the spring election, and is encouraging Islanders to make sure their information is up to date.

For more on how to do that, visit the Elections P.E.I. website.

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