Sask. Party budget breaks promises, hurts families, and cuts opportunities
With a projected debt of over $18 billion – double Saskatchewan’s total debt in 2013 – more cuts to the province’s most vulnerable and no investments to build for the future, the Sask. Party’s latest budget makes it clear that, after a decade in government, they have learned nothing about supporting Saskatchewan people, managing through difficult times, or working together to build for the future.
“The Sask. Party has clearly forgotten who they’re working for. Every page of this budget shows another broken promise, a tax hike, or a cut to Saskatchewan families trying to get ahead,” said NDP Finance Critic Cathy Sproule. “The Sask. Party arrogantly and recklessly spent the people of Saskatchewan’s money, and now it’s those people – those families and those workers – that are being forced to pay for the government’s mismanagement, scandal, and waste.”
While the Sask. Party had repeatedly promised to not raise taxes, their budget hikes taxes on families, and the middle class, and job creators in the construction business. In addition to a wide variety of tax and fee increases, totalling approximately $1 billion, the Sask. Party is still banking on an additional $250 million in job and wage cuts across the province that they have yet to disclose how they will implement.
“To put it simply, the Sask. Party lied. On top of an increase to the PST, everything from power bills to children’s clothes, fishing licenses, and a case of beer will cost the people of Saskatchewan more. They only people coming out on top will be Saskatchewan’s wealthiest who will get a $38 million tax cut,” Sproule said. “There are 40,000 people currently out of work in this province. That’s double the number from when the Sask. Party took office but, instead of investing in job training, post-secondary education, and stimulating the economy, the Sask. Party is cutting those programs and cutting $1.32 billion out of the Saskatchewan economy. How does the Sask. Party expect to grow the economy, if everyone has less in their pocket?”
In several areas, the Sask. Party showed how arrogant and out of touch they have become. Notably, in education, while they did not cut any school boards, they eliminated their autonomy and decision making ability by essentially taking over their budgets.
“By scrapping the health regions earlier this year, the Sask. Party silenced local voices in Saskatchewan’s health care system,” said Sproule. “This budget tells school boards that locally elected representatives can still speak about what how we can improve our kids’ classrooms but makes it clear that they will have no control and that no one in the Sask. Party will be listening.”
The Sask. Party also left several important areas unaddressed in the budget, including seniors care, and the growing suicide crisis in northern Saskatchewan.
“There is not a dime in this budget to support the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations,” Sproule said.
This budget also reveals that the Sask. Party is unilaterally eliminating the Saskatchewan Transportation Company. This is an important Crown Corporation that provides a crucial service to people across the province who depend on it for traveling, accessing medical appointments, and shipping important packages.
“Less than a year ago, the then Minister responsible said STC is a ‘needed service’ and was safe from a sale,” Sproule said. “STC provides a vital service to many seniors, workers, and families throughout the province and, by scrapping it out of the blue and without asking permission of the owners – the Saskatchewan people – the Sask. Party is sending a clear sign, how little they care about protecting our Crowns like SaskTel.”
The Sask. Party’s failure to understand the importance of both tourism and building community were also highlighted in the budget with cuts to local parks and main attractions like Wascana Park and the Meewasin Valley.
“Either the Sask. Party doesn’t get it or they just don’t care anymore. Responsible and forward-looking management would have been a welcome change from this party,” said Sproule. “But this budget, with his skyrocketing debt, massive tax hikes, callous cuts and lack of strategic investment leaves too many behind and does nothing to build hope in the future.”