Province to provide affordability relief cheque for residents

With the price of resources going through the roof, the Saskatchewan government is finding itself flush with revenues for the first quarter.

The province had an unexpected $1.04 billion dollar surplus projected after the first quarter financials were calculated, where they had originally projected about $500 million dollars in debt.

Finance minister Donna Harpauer announced today that the province will use the projected surplus from the first quarter financials on four things.

“First, a one-time $500 Saskatchewan Affordability tax credit cheque, to be sent this fall, to everyone who is 18 years of age or older, as of December 31, 2022, who filed a 2021 Saskatchewan income tax return,” she said.

Other things announced will be the removal of some items from the expanded PST, like gym memberships and youth sports, an extension of the small business tax rate reduction and retiring a billion in operation debt.

Harpauer says they thought about decreasing the tax on gas or utilities, but it’s not as equitable.

“When those resource revenues fall in price, then the government is jammed because they’ve increased their year-to-year costs but their don’t have the revenue to support it,” she said. “And then they have to look to where that money is going to come from.”

She said if the resource revenues remain high, they will look into making different decisions.

This indicates the importance of filing taxes every year. People who haven’t filed, won’t be getting the money.

“They’re also missing out on the GST rebate, they’re missing out on the carbon tax rebate, they’re missing out on the low income tax rebate… so if they aren’t going to file, they’re missing out on about $1,000 per year,” Harpauer said.

Meanwhile, the official Opposition is saying this relief is too little, too late for many in the province.

Wotherspoon said the province has received almost $62 million months ago from the federal government for surgeries but none of that has been allocated yet.

“The Sask. Party is giving regular people a one-time payment of their own tax dollars, while pocketing federal cash once again,” said Wotherspoon.

Wotherspoon said the one-time payment won’t be enough for families facing serious affordability issues in perpetuity from recent utility rate hikes.

“This is a government not offering the kind of relief that Saskatchewan people need and deserve,” Wotherspoon said. “They’re treating people in a way that’s rubbish and not rising to the challenges people are facing.”

Wotherspoon said the government is doing nothing about kids going back in classrooms or the closed emergency rooms in hospitals and health care centres. He said the government didn’t step up to face the generational cost of living crisis at that time.

“We’ve also been pointing out that this is a government that’s sitting on windfall revenues,” Wotherspoon said. “In this case, hoarding cash and misleading Saskatchewan people. Not being honest and not being straight with Saskatchewan people and making Saskatchewan people pay the price.”

Other governments across the country have introduced similar measures to Saskatchewan’s. In March, Quebec’s budget gave $500 to every adult earning under $100,000 and Nova Scotia provided $150 to those receiving assistance. BC announced they would issue $110 auto insurance rebates.

Also in April, Alberta suspended their 13 cents a litre tax on gasoline and diesel until October.

Harpauer said she’ll still be concerned when she enters deliberations into the next budget cycle that we don’t assume resource prices will stay this high.

“We can not get caught up in the volatility of resource revenues,” Harpauer said.


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