5 Major Components of the PEI Economy

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PEI an island province off the east coast of Canada, known primarily for its red soil and island heroine Anne of Green Gables, is largely unknown by many Canadians. This was obvious in a recent television show where a PEI business person sought capital from some of the riches Canadian investors and most on the panel allowed for the fact that they had never been to PEI. Let me take you there and show you the economy of this island province, the smallest in Canada.

There are 5 major components to the island economy, agriculture, fishing, tourism, forestry and manufacturing, although the first 3 greatly outweigh the last two, manufacturing is on the rise.

Agricultural activities on PEI include the production of potatoes, the operation of dairy herds, cattle and hogs as well as some soft fruit and market gardening. Recently the hog processing plant was shut down and the beef plant in Borden has had some very tough times including financial restructuring and its future is in uncertain. There has been talk of the 3 maritime provinces working together to create one healthy beef processing plant, however this has not come to fruition. Of course agriculture across the country is, and it seems always has been, in a process of survival so its not surprising that there are problems on PEI.

Fishing is another uniquely Maritime economic activity including the harvesting of lobsters, crab, herring, cod and the cultivation of clams, oysters and trout. Approximately half of the PEI fishery is lobster. Fishing is tightly controlled by the Federal Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO) and quotas set regarding the amount of any product that can be harvested. Lobster prices have taken a strong hit in the last year and there is a plan in place to buy back a number of lobster licenses and thereby reduce the number of traps which would serve the two-fold purpose of reducing the strain on the lobster stocks and balancing supply and demand. It is hoped this might result in better prices.

Tourism is the second largest industry in the province. Our PEI population of approximately 140,000 swells to over a million in peak periods due to the influx of tourists and summer residents. It is very popular with other Canadians and New Englanders to have a summer cottage here on PEI as the price of PEI real estate is very reasonable when compared with other areas. Most tourists come from Atlantic Canada with a large number from Quebec and Ontario and the New England States. PEI is also very popular with the Japanese; however we receive international visitors from all over the world.

Forestry is not an industry that is obvious here like it is in BC. The forests here are smaller and are most valued for their hardwood concentration. However there is still a thriving forest industry here on PEI.

Manufacturing is growing on the island as well as specialized service industries such as aerospace. There is of course a manufacturing industry concentrated around the fishery, processing fish products, as well as the forestry and wood products; however we are growing in high tech companies as well as the traditional such as chemical, transportation and metal products.

PEI is a great place to live and work and there are jobs to be had on PEI. It’s a safe place to raise a family, a less expensive place to retire given the lower PEI real estate values, as well a place to put your money to work. Anyone looking for a place to relocate or to invest would be well advised to consider PEI.
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