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Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is a province of Canada consisting of the island of the same name, as well as several much smaller islands.

It is one of the three Maritime Provinces and is the smallest province in both land area and population. It is the only subnational jurisdiction of North America outside the Caribbean to have no mainland territory, and the only such jurisdiction to have no land boundary. The island has several informal names: “Garden of the Gulf,” referring to the pastoral scenery and lush agricultural lands throughout the province; and “Birthplace of Confederation” or “Cradle of Confederation”, referring to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, although PEI did not join Confederation until 1873, when it became the seventh Canadian province. The backbone of the economy is farming; it produces 25% of Canada’s potatoes. Historically, PEI is one of Canada’s older settlements and demographically still reflects older immigration to the country, with Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and French surnames being dominant to this day.

According to the 2011 census, the province of Prince Edward Island has 140,204 residents. It is located about 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Halifax, Nova Scotia and 600 kilometres (370 miles) east of Quebec City. It consists of the main island and 231 minor islands. Altogether, the entire province has a land area of 5,685.73 km2 (2,195.27 sq mi). Its capital is Charlottetown.

The main island is 5,620 km2 (2,170 sq mi) in size, slightly larger than the U.S. state of Delaware. It is the 104th-largest island in the world and Canada’s 23rd-largest island.

The provincial economy is dominated by the seasonal industries of agriculture, tourism, and the fishery. The province is limited in terms of heavy industry and manufacturing, though the McCain’s food conglomerate runs expansion operations from PEI.

Agriculture remains the dominant industry in the provincial economy, as it has since colonial times. The Island has a total land area of 1.4 million acres (570,000 hectares) with approximately 594,000 acres (240,383 hectares) cleared for agricultural use. In 2006, the Census of Agriculture counted 1700 farms on the Island. During the 20th century, potatoes replaced mixed farming as the leading cash crop, accounting for one-third of provincial farm income. The number of acres under potato production in 2010 was 88,000, while soy accounted for 55,000. There are approximately 330 potato growers on PEI, with the grand majority of these being family farms, often with multiple generations working together. The province currently accounts for a third of Canada’s total potato production, producing approximately 1.3 billion kilograms (1,400,000 short tons) annually. Comparatively, the state of Idaho produces approximately 6.2 billion kilograms (6,800,000 short tons) annually, with a population approximately 9.5 times greater. The province is a major producer of seed potatoes, exporting to more than twenty countries around the world. An estimated total of 70% of the land is cultivated and 25% of all potatoes grown in Canada originate from P.E.I. The processing of frozen fried potatoes, green vegetables, and berries is a leading business activity.

As a legacy of the island’s colonial history, the provincial government enforces extremely strict rules for non-resident land ownership, especially since the PEI Lands Protection Act of 1982. Residents and corporations are limited to maximum holdings of 400 and 1,200 hectares respectively. There are also restrictions on non-resident ownership of shorelines.

The island’s economy has grown significantly over the last decade in key areas of innovation. Aerospace, Bioscience, ICT and Renewable energy have been a focus for growth and diversification. Aerospace alone now accounts for over 25% of the province’s international exports and is the island’s fourth largest industry at $355 million in annual sales. The Bioscience industry over 1300 people and generates over $150 million in sales.

Many of the province’s coastal communities rely upon shellfish harvesting, particularly lobster fishing as well as oyster fishing and mussel farming.

The sale of carbonated beverages such as beer and soft drinks in non-refillable containers, such as aluminum cans or plastic bottles, was banned in 1976 as an environmental measure in response to public concerns over litter. Beer and soft drink companies opted to use refillable glass bottles for their products which were redeemable at stores and bottle depots.

Though often environmental and economic agendas may be at odds, the ‘ban the can’ legislation along with being environmentally driven, was also economically motivated as it protected jobs. Seaman’s Beverages, a bottling company and carbonated beverage manufacturer, was established in 1939 and a major employer in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Making it illegal to retail cans led to a bigger share of the carbonated beverage market for Seamans. Seamans Beverages was eventually acquired by Pepsi Bottling Group Inc in 2002 prior to the lifting of the legislation.

The introduction of recycling programs for cans and plastic bottles in neighbouring provinces in recent years (also using a redemption system) has seen the provincial government introduce legislation to reverse this ban with the restriction lifted on May 3, 2008.

Prince Edward Island has one of Canada’s highest provincial retail sales tax rate at 9%. The tax is applied to almost all goods and services except some clothing, food and home heating fuel. The tax, along with the Federal Goods and Services Tax, is incorporated into the Harmonized Sales Tax in the province.

The provincial government provides consumer protection in the form of regulation for certain items, ranging from apartment rent increases to petroleum products including gas, diesel, propane and heating oil. These are regulated through the Prince Edward Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC). IRAC is authorized to limit the number of companies who are permitted to sell petroleum products.

At present, approximately fifteen percent of electricity consumed on the island is generated from renewable energy (largely wind turbines); the provincial government has set renewable energy targets as high as 30-50% for electricity consumed by 2015. Until wind generation, the province relied entirely on electricity imports on a submarine cable from New Brunswick. A thermal oil-fired generating station in Charlottetown is also available. Electricity rates in the province were in 2011 the highest in Canada, at a domestic rate of 0.161 $/kWh. The province imports about 85 per cent of its power through New Brunswick. The maintenance shutdown of Point Lepreau nuclear plant forced the province to acquire most of its electrons on the expensive open market. The result was a steep price hikes of about 25 per cent in the three years to 2011 but the province later subsidised rates. Residents were to pay 11.2 per cent more for electricity when the harmonized sales tax was adopted in April 2013, according to the P.E.I. Energy Accord that was tabled in the legislature on 7 December 2012 and passed as the Electric Power (Energy Accord Continuation) Amendment Act, which establishes electric pricing from 1 April 2013 to 1 March 2016. Regulatory powers are derived for IRAC from the Electric Power Act. Since 1918 Maritime Electric has delivered electricity to customers on the Island. The utility is currently owned and operated by Fortis Inc.

The average family income on Prince Edward Island is $62,110/year, and the minimum wage of $10.50/hour as of July 1, 2015.

Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program

Labour Impact Category

  • Skilled Worker Stream
  • Critical Worker Stream
  • International Graduate Stream

Business Impact Category

  • 100% Ownership Stream
  • Partial Ownership Stream
  • Work Permit Stream