05/14/2013 01:12 EDT | Updated 07/14/2013 05:12 EDT

Prime minister announces funding for P.E.I. companies

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Summerside Tuesday to announce funding for several Island companies through the Atlantic Innovation Fund.

The funding announced Tuesday was for:

- Island Abbey Foods, to develop methods of using its dried honey products to deliver medicine: $1.9 million.

- Delivra, to develop topical creams to relieve joint pain and improve circulation: $2.8 million.

- Biovectra, to develop new delivery technologies for medications: $2.9 million.

Seasonal industries not targeted by EI changes

After the Atlantic Innovation Fund announcements, Harper took questions from the media.

He was asked about changes to the employment insurance program made last year, and their impact on seasonal industries on P.E.I.

"There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in our changes that targets seasonal industries, or seasonal workers, or requires anybody to leave their region to get a job," Harper responded.

"We know unemployment is still high in this region. That's why we put specific emphasis on making sure we get investment in places like Atlantic Canada."

Harper said the number one objective of the government is to create jobs. Innovation is crucial, he said, in order to grow the economy and stay globally competitive.

The prime minister was also asked about the current turmoil in the lobster industry that saw fishermen tie up their boats for almost a week in protest over low prices.

"Obviously we are concerned by what we're seeing in the marketplace," he said.

Lobster fishermen should be able to make a decent living for their families, he said, and added the federal government has for years been making efforts to open up new markets for fish products.