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About Prince Edward Island

Take this opportunity to learn about the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.


The Basics

Known as “the Garden Province,” Prince Edward Island is one of the four Atlantic provinces of Canada. As Canada’s smallest and least populous province, Prince Edward Island is home to only 140,000 people.  Prince Edward Island’s capital and largest city is Charlottetown, with 40,000 people. Prince Edward Island is known for its natural beauty, including its 800 km of beaches.

Prince Edward Island Economy and Employment

Agriculture, tourism and fishing are the main industries present in Prince Edward Island. About 30% of Canada’s potatoes are grown in Prince Edward Island, providing the most important source of income for the province's 2000 farms.  Tourism in particular is on the rise as the Island’s charm, landscapes, and golf courses entice greater numbers of visitors each year. The manufacturing sector is comprised mainly of food processing. However, high-technology is becoming important, especially in the medical, electronics and agricultural fields.

The fishing industry, once a major employer in the province, has been in decline due to depleting stocks of fish in the once teeming Grand Banks area. The effect of this decline is that the unemployment rate in Prince Edward Island stands at over 10%, making it the second highest among provinces. The government is making efforts to train those from the fishing industry left without jobs to work in P.E.I.’s growth industries.

Prince Edward Island Standard of Living

In Prince Edward Island, average families can afford a comfortable life thanks to the relatively lower costs of living. Housing and heating costs, as well as the cost of living generally, are among the lowest in Canada. Average income for Prince Edward Island families is $41,500, which is below the Canadian average. The mandatory minimum wage is also modest by Canadian standards at $9.00/hr. Provincial personal income taxes are above the Canadian average at 18.37%.

Prince Edward Island Residential Housing

Prince Edward Island has a low population and consequently affordable housing is widely available in the province.The average price of a house in P.E.I. is below $150,000, making it one of the most affordable places to live in the country. In addition, the average percentage of household income taken up by ownership costs varies between 21-32%, depending on the type of home involved, and is among the lowest in Canada

Prince Edward Island Education

In Canada, all citizens and permanent residents under the age of 20 are entitled to free education through the end of high school through the public school system. Prince Edward Island offers a leading system of public education for its residents beginning with Early Childhood Education programs and continuing right through to Grade 12. For those entering skilled trades after secondary school the province has a comprehensive program of apprenticeships and training to help people learn a trade and find jobs as well.

Postsecondary education in Prince Edward Island is delivered through the province's one publicly funded university, the University of Prince Edward Island, Holland College, a publicly funded community college with eleven campuses throughout the province, the francophone Adult Learning Centre in Wellington, and a number of private career training schools. The University of Prince Edward Island is home to the Atlantic Veterinary College, which serves all four Atlantic provinces — Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

Prince Edward Island Health Care

Under Canadian Law, all provinces and territories must provide universal, publicly funded health care to all citizens and legal residents of Canada. In other words, most basic health services in Canada are offered at no direct cost to the patient. Certain procedures that are not deemed necessary (such as elective cosmetic surgery and a number of dental care procedures, for example) are generally not covered, but the list of services paid for publicly varies from province to province. The Medical Care Plan of Prince Edward Island insures all medically necessary physician services and surgical-dental services (for example, surgical removal of impacted teeth, root resection) provided to all citizens and permanent residents.

Prince Edward Island History

Prince Edward Island is named for Prince Edward Augustus, the Duke of Kent, who was the father of Queen Victoria. Prior to its current name however the province has had some other names which reflect other stages in its history. The original First Nations inhabitants of the island were the Mi’kmaq people, who called the island “Abegwiet” meaning “Land cradled by the waves”. The French were the first Europeans to settle on the island, giving it the name “Ile St. Jean” as part of the French Colony of Acadia. After the British captured the island from the French, the island was given its current name in 1798.  At the time its peaceful natural beauty made it a popular vacation destination for British nobility.
While P.E.I. was part of the discussions that led to Canadian Confederation in 1867, the province did not in fact join Canada at this time. Instead the province’s leaders chose to stay independent and even entered into discussion with the United States. This did not last for long however, as P.E.I. joined the new country of Canada in 1873. After joining Canada, railroads were extended to the island, giving a major boost to the province’s agricultural industry.

History has brought many changes to the island but many elements have remained constant from the time P.E.I. joined Canada. Today while agricultural and fishing remain important industries connecting the island with its traditional roots, the province also boasts a modern service industry and booming tourism. And alongside the modern capital of Charlottetown, many of P.E.I.’s residents live in rural communities which retain a traditional feel.

Prince Edward Island Culture

As an island with a small population, Prince Edward Island is home to a culture that is vibrant and distinct. Residents of P.E.I. are often known as “Islanders”. The warm and welcoming nature of Islanders’ culture is well-documented. In fact, a century ago the island inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to create the famous novel Anne of Green Gables. Still today this traditional flavour remains in P.E.I.’s culture, which contributes strongly to the island’s appeal. This unique mix of the traditional and the modern defines P.E.I. today.

Prince Edward Island Demographics

Along with the smallest land area of any Canadian province, Prince Edward Island is home to the smallest population of Canada’s provinces and territories at just over 140 000 people. Yet despite the small population, P.E.I. is also home to the highest population density of any province. While the province’s service and tourism industries have been growing quite well, fisheries have been declining steadily. These factors have balanced out to keep the population of P.E.I. at relatively steady levels for the past 2 decades. Approximately half of the population of the province lives in the Charlottetown area.

Prince Edward Island Immigration

Like other Canadian provinces, P.E.I. can expect the large majority of its future population growth to come from immigration. To encourage immigration that meets the province’s needs, P.E.I. has a Provincial Nomination Program, which allows the province to select immigrants that wish to settle in the province and get them to Canada sooner. There are four categories in P.E.I.’s Provincial Nomination Program: Investors, Entrepreneurs, Skilled Workers, and those with connections to the island.

Prince Edward Island Government

Canada’s government works on a federal system, with control over certain affairs belonging to the national government in Ottawa, and others under the control of the provincial governments. The province of Prince Edward Island has its own democratically-elected parliament found in the provincial capital of Charlottetown. The Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island meets at the historic Province House. The assembly consists of 27 representatives each elected to serve a specific geographic district. The current government is formed by the Liberal Party of Prince Edward Island led by Premier Robert Ghiz. This government was elected in the most recent election on May 28, 2007.

Prince Edward Island Major City

Charlottetown
As the capital of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown is home to just under a third of its residents at 40 000 people. An additional 20 000 residents live in the area surrounding the provincial capital. The city’s economy is dominated by the public sector, with major federal, provincial and municipal government operations. Service and high-technology have also been major growth sectors in recent years, along with tourism. The city is home to the University of P.E.I., a comprehensive and well-respected university.

Charlottetown is known as a modern city with small-town charm. Many are attracted by the allure of retaining the friendly character of rural communities in a city with all the accompaniments of modern life. Charlottetown puts great effort into retaining this character with its planning, limiting the size of downtown buildings and developing former railway lands on the waterfront into cultural centers. The result is a welcoming feel that is a matter of pride for residents and attracts more and more tourists each year.

The city of Charlottetown has also been the backdrop for some important events in Canadian history. Despite the fact that P.E.I. did not join Canada until 1873, the city of Charlottetown hosted the famous conference where the groundwork was laid for the new nation of Canada. Over a century later, Charlottetown would once again host an important conference of a similar nature, as leaders from across the country gathered nearly 2 decades ago in the city for discussions on the Canadian constitution.

Links and Resources

Government of Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island Provincial Nomination Program
Find Jobs in P.E.I.
Moving to P.E.I.

 

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