Regina, Sask. – April 8, 2017 – In Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan, everyone is feeling the pain of the premier’s latest budget – except his wealthy corporate friends.
For years, Saskatchewan reaped the benefits of high resource prices, but Wall never had the foresight to save some of this revenue for that inevitable time when resource revenues faltered. In fact, Wall actually ran deficits in five out of ten years despite the fact that the revenue faucet was flowing full speed. Now that the faucet has slowed to a trickle, Wall has introduced one of the most mean-spirited austerity budgets the province has ever seen.
Wall has ventured where few conservatives dare to go by raising taxes by nearly $1 billion dollars, even though over the years he chastised progressive-minded governments for doing the same thing. Wall’s increase in the provincial sales tax as well as the elimination of many of the exemptions such as clothing will hit ordinary working families the hardest. His decision to close the Saskatchewan Transportation Co. will leave many First Nations communities and the rural poor without access to the big cities. Cuts to the public library system will leave many low-income families without access to the internet, and will limit the number of new books and other resources libraries provide to their communities. His budget eliminates jobs, and will likely result in increases to municipal property tax bills. To top it off, Wall wants to cut public sector wages by 3.5 percent.
While low income and working families will feel the pain, Wall did let some of his usual friends of the hook. Corporate taxes were cut. Wall also lowered income taxes, which will benefit the wealthy most but will not come close to making up the difference in rising costs for low and middle-income families.
Working people in Saskatchewan are in for a lot of pain and suffering due to Wall’s budget cuts, but once again, a conservative government like Wall’s ensures their rich and wealthy friends don’t have to share in the pain.