#skvotes 2016

Saskatchewan’s Budget 2017: The Good, the Bad…Actually Let’s Just Say It’s a Bloodbath

I wanted to title this post ‘Saskatchewan Budget 2017: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’, but it didn’t work out, because there’s nothing good about it.

If I had stayed with that theme, I could have gone with something like ‘Saskatchewan Budget 2017: A Little Bit Okay and OMG ARE YOU %#@& SERIOUS?!’

It’s pretty bad you guys.

First, a few words about government budgets.

The number one thing you need to know is they are basically bullshit. Seriously.

At best they are a government communications exercise; at worst they aren’t worth the paper to wipe your butt with.

I like to think the truth falls somewhere in the middle.

What is being released today is called ‘Estimates‘, because that’s what they are – a best guess.

Then, at fiscal year end, ‘Reality’ (aka Public Accounts) will be posted (with little fanfare) on the Saskatchewan government’s website, and we get to see what really went down in the spending categories.

But whatever, it’s what we get.

We also get all kinds of projections and fortune-telling about what the government thinks will happen with oil prices, potash prices… with their revenue sources in general.

Based on the fact we’re busted-ass broke because apparently they’ve had ZERO idea what was going to happen with their revenue sources for the last DECADE, forgive me for not putting a ton of stock in those either.

Finally, you should know that in addition to the budget documents, reporters are given an entire Bible of news releases, through which the government desperately tries to dangle shiny objects in an attempt to divert their attention away from the smoking bag of dung in their other hand.

So when it comes to the 2017-18 Saskatchewan budget, I’m going to keep this simple, because the aftershocks are going to ripple for weeks, and there will be lots more to write about.

Let’s start with the Little Bit Okay*:

Personal and corporate income taxes in Saskatchewan have been reduced by 0.5 per cent, effective July 2017, and will go down another 0.5 percent in July 2019.

(Edited March 23, 2017 – I had a bit here about contractors receiving an exemption on their materials. I deleted it, because even though they now receive exemptions on materials, for both renos and new construction, they have to charge PST on the total contract to the purchaser, and that’s really not that great. This one was decidedly NOT spelled out in any budget news releases or documents, by the way.)

The construction industry got a pass. They get to keep their PST exemption.

The PST is going up from 5 to 6 per cent. I’m putting this in the Little Bit Okay column because it’s a consumption tax, and because apparently there’s also going to be $34 million “enhancement to Saskatchewan’s Low-Income Tax Credit” to offset the impact of the PST hike on low income residents.

There’s a new $5 million Research and Development Tax Credit.

The 2016-2017 deficit did not go up beyond $1.3 billion. At this time last year it was projected to only be $435 million, but recently, many of us figured it would end up closer to the $1.5 billion mark.

So huzzah for exceeding my rock bottom expectations, Kevin Doherty.

The projected 2017-18 deficit is only $685 mil.

Again, they were off by 200 per cent on their deficit prediction at this time last year, but I’m choosing to be a glass half-full kind of girl today. I’m not even going to get into what they say about the 2018-19 and 2019-2020 deficit/surplus numbers though, because seriously. What is this, Harry Potter? They don’t know the future.

For fiscal year 2017-2018 the Sask government is predicting oil averages WTI $60 USD per barrel.

On one hand this seems a bit optimistic, on the other, well… nevermind, we don’t need that hand anyway.

Switching gears – the Ministry of Health is kicking in $750 000 to provide the HPV vaccine for Grade 6 boys. Grade 6 girls already get it. This is good, because science.

The Canadian National Institue for the Blind (CNIB) in Saskatchewan is getting $250000 in additional funding. Random, but okay. I’m happy for them.

Rosthern and Weyburn are each getting a new school. They’re P3 schools, but that’s not the point, okay? I’m trying to be positive here.

The government is bragging about record levels of cash for Saskatchewan’s Social Services Ministry, which is seeing a 6.9 per cent increase to its funding. In 2017-2018 Social Services is poised to spend a  $1.125 billion budget, its “largest ever”.

Okay so I’m not sure record levels of welfare programming is something we should be crowing about. That said, it’s not a decrease to Social Services (not an obvious one, anyway, though as you’ll read below, apparently Social Services is moving away from the shoebox they buy for their clients’ cremains and moving to something cheaper. Maybe a pizza box from a recycling bin in a strip mall)…so I’ll put it in the win column.

Regional health authorities funding supposedly increased by 1.2 per cent, however health regions are only receiving half a year’s worth of funding, and the other half is going to the new “provincial health authority”. So, it’s kinda hard to tell if that’s an increase or not.

BUT OPTIMISM.

The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency funding is up by 2 per cent. Pretty sure cancer rates aren’t going down, so this is welcome.

Oh, and Health is injecting $12 million more into the budget to help address overcrowding and wait times in Regina and Saskatoon Emergency Rooms.

I’m not clear on whether that funding is to address it for a specific day, or what, because surely that’s not for the whole year, for both cities.

Let’s just say it’s a start.

The First Home Plan was suspended, and thank effing heaven for that. This is the one where the taxpayer was subsidizing the down payment on a home for young whippersnappers who just graduated from university.

Apparently we kicked out $8 million for their rental homes while they moved to Calgary starter homes in 2016-17, which was at least $7.999ish million too much, so high fives for shutting that shit down.

The government is increasing the Ministry of Agriculture’s “business risk management programs” by 4 per cent, and putting more funding into strategic agriculture initiatives, agriculture research etc.

They’re adding an additional 13 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions to the Ministry of Economy for regulating oil and gas activities, including more field inspectors.

*IMO

So, there’s all that.

Now, the Bad WTF You’ve Got To Be F***ing Kidding Me:

But we’ll ease into it.

The cost of the remediation of “contaminated sites” in Saskatchewan has gone up from $5.3 million in 2015-16, to $14 million in 2016-17, and now $25 million 2017-18. I’m thinking this money is for the old uranium mines festering way up north, which should have been remediated decades ago.

It’s shocking, really, and I bet there’s a hell of a health horror story up there.

Saskatchewan Transport Company is toast.

I debated putting this on the Little Bit Okay list, because STC is a money pit, but I know that the people who use it really do rely on it. Plus, I’m not sure what will happen to all the little depots, which double as parcel services and economic entities in small towns, so that sucks.

Saskatchewan’s PST has been hiked by $1 billion dollars.

$1 billion dollars, equaling literally no new programming or services; it doesn’t touch the debt we racked up last year; we’re still accruing a $685 million deficit this year, and 574 government employees are losing their jobs.

So, that’s a thing that’s happening in Saskatchewan after an economic boom.

In health, “regional targeted programs and services” have been hit with cuts, taking them from $40 million in funding, to $14 million.

It’s not readily apparent which programs and services entail the entire $26 million, but at least a couple seem really petty. For example, hearing aids, and the 80 health employees who administer the hearing aid program, are getting chopped.

Pastoral care in health regions is being defunded.

Yes, that’s right, the provincial government is taking away your Grandma’s hospital access to her Last Rites, or her smudging ceremony, or scheduled access to Muslim prayer.

No word yet on whether they’re actually locking up hospital chapels too, but I suspect this has a lot more to do with the rampant cultural tension rumored to be one reaction to Saskatchewan’s increasingly diverse religious communities as they work or visit hospitals, than it does money. That’s a discussion for another day.

Speaking of dead – Social Services, with their record spending budget, is no longer paying for their clients’ funerals.

I’d love to know what exactly they think they’re cutting.

Currently, Social Services pays funeral homes a flat rate of $3850, which covers either cremation, or “the opening and closing” (think backhoe) of a grave (most municipalities have a patch at the back they provide for free), a box – whether it’s the “welfare casket”, as they’re dubbed in the death industry, or a fancy shoe box – and all of the province’s own regulatory fees.

Occasionally there’s mileage, say if someone from Prince Albert dies in a hospital in Saskatoon (unless the poor soul dies out of province, in which case they’re buried where they drop), or, to quote someone in the funeral industry, “once in a while, but it’s really rare, (Social Services) will pay for flowers”.

Amazing.

There’s going to be lots of spin about capital investment in highways, but the government is actually cutting operating funds for Saskatchewan highways: the budget for road safety and traffic guidance is cut by $750 000, while funding for operational services is being reduced from $24.9 to $20.9 million, and road surface preservation funds are dropping significantly from $138.9 to $110.6 million.

Got shocks? Not anymore!

Did I mention those two new schools, one each in Rosthern and Weyburn, will be P3 schools? I think I did.

Nothing like building schools we can’t afford with cash we don’t have. The children are our future, after all.

Oh, and there’s a new shiny $9 million expense line in Education for “P3 joint use schools maintenance and interest”.

Later we learn $6.6 million of that $9 million will go to “debt servicing” of those P3 schools.

I don’t even want to know what these are going to cost us in the long term.

Over in the Ministry of Environment, Landscape Stewardship is gone.

The function of Landscape Stewardship is defined in previous budgets as the department that:

“Develops policies and procedures to support Ministry engagement and legal responsibilities to consult with First Nation and Métis communities to enhance environmental management outcomes… provides direct support on Ministry initiatives regarding First Nation and Métis interests and rights.”

From the looks of things, this function – duty to consult with First Nation’s and Metis communities on environmental projects – has now been rolled into… Fish and Wildlife.

That’s not insulting at all.

There are no allocations listed for Innovation Saskatchewan, or as I like to call it: The Black Hole.

Seriously, there are millions and millions of dollars flowing into that arms-length agency, and then back out again as “grants”, undoubtedly at least in part to the SaskParty’s donors private industry. It’s hard enough to follow the money on this one, but now they’re just giving Innovation Sask $30 million as a lump sum, with no breakdown?

Ugh.

On to Justice, which is fun.

Community Justice has been gutted.

Remember when you were a teenager and you got your first speeding ticket?

Yeah, your parents marched you right down to Fine Options and you signed up to spend a few days licking envelopes or folding letters to pay it off.

Not anymore. Fine Options, at least for traffic offences, will no longer be an option.

This is from page 10 of today’s Estimates release, under the specified budget bills, or amendments, that will need to be passed in conjunction with the 2017-18 budget.

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Meanwhile, the taxpayer, instead of getting free labour out of your meatball teenager, will now pay for his or her stay in the slammer.

Genius.

I suspect we’re going to see and hear far more in the coming weeks how the demise of Community Justice will impact non-profits and services all over the province, because there’s a lot of money from that pot that’s just… gone.

My personal favorite new expense line in the Ministry of Justice’s budget is $1.4 million for ‘Research and Evidence-Based Excellence’.

That’s not a dog-whistle at all.

I can’t wait to see alllll the Justice Excellence.

(BTW, Justice Excellence is also this summer’s next box office blockbuster, starring Gord Wyant as Captain Saskatchewan and Christine Tell as Ironman.)

I forgot to mention earlier – we’re cutting funding for reforestation from $1.9 million to $300 000.

Insect disease control funding is going down from $1.846 million to $1.246 million.

Funding for Saskatchewan’s regional parks is being cut in half.

No trees, rundown parks and disease-carrying bugs…thank god Tourism Saskatchewan’s budget didn’t take much of a hit.

Funding for universities and post-secondary has been cut by 5 percent, representing a $25 million reduction to universities (from $475 million to $450 million) and $6 million from technical institutes ($156 million to $150 million).

Saskatchewan student aid funding is taking a hit, going from $32.5 million to $26.2 million.

There was a bunch of government gobbledy-crap explaining why cutting student aid is actually awesome for students, but I didn’t read it.

The government’s also shaving $2 million off post secondary scholarships, which will drop from $14.3 million to $12.5 million in 2017-18.

Not quite sure what’s going on with these next two, but I’m guessing we’ll soon find out:

Sask Housing Corporation is losing virtually all ($11 million) of its $11.8 million in funding.

(Note – I had a bit here about the Chief Electoral Office losing a bunch of money. They did, but I’ve seen learned it was planned, so nevermind. Still, I’d rather the government let the CEO keep the money and change our political donation rules.)

Support for Provincial Heritage and Culture, and Community Sport, Culture and Rec Programming is being cut in half, to $1.3 million and $2.1 million respectively.

Remember the SaskParty’s 2016 election promise of individualized funding for kids with autism?

#sadtrombone

It’s been “deferred” to 2018-19, and a working group has been tasked with a creating a “model” for individualized funding.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that election announcement wasn’t just a cynical, shallow photo op.

Right?

Back to Grandma, who is really taking this budget on the chin – seniors’ special care home fees are going up, based on income, from base funding plus 50 percent of her income, to base plus 57.5 per cent of her income.

Your smokes are going up 50 cents a pack, and your booze isn’t getting any cheaper either.

But education?

Yeah, Education is where we enter WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F**K?! territory.

Cause we’re straight outta cash.

And the way they’re trying to hide that fact help us understand is really, really confusing.

For starters, the Saskatchewan government is introducing Legislation that will redirect the education portion of your property taxes away from, you know, educators,into their own pocket.

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A government insider tells me this bill isn’t supposed to come into effect until January 1, 2018, meaning that until then, your RM, Town, or City will continue to collect your property tax and pay it to the school board directly.

Come January 1, 2018, that tap will shut off.

In this budget, the provincial government has increased its portion of school operating funding from $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion, claiming that the extra hundred million will offset that three month (remember, funding resets at the end of every fiscal year, or in March) loss of education property tax revenue.

Once you wade through the copious piles of bullshit in their news release, you realize that what they’re saying is $1.86 billion ($1.3 billion from the government, plus the $560 million they project the school boards will collect from property tax between now December 31, 2017) only equals a 1.2 per cent overall operational cut to education.

How is $100 million supposed to cover the loss of three months, or 25 per cent, of school boards’ education property tax, and fund 21 new schools (think $4 million per school per year) opening in the fall, and still only equal a 1.2 per cent cut in funding?

Who knows?

Budgets are fun!

Oh, and just in case you didn’t think Kindergarten to Grade 12 education in Saskatchewan wasn’t political enough, the SaskParty sees your challenge and raises you an additional pile of interference:

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Somewhere, right now, in a bunker built into a cave guarded by a white tiger, Kim Jong Un is taking notes.

“Dear Diary… today I learned I can personally control education…”

Look, people, I know we like the SaskParty – I do too.

(Remember, I had a SaskParty sign on my lawn a year ago this month.)

(Would I have one this year? Probably not. But you get my point.)

We like Brad Wall, we like the SaskParty, but please, just stop what you’re doing and repeat after me:

“This is not okay…”

“Elected politicians, even ones we like, should never, ever have absolute power over my child’s school, teacher, and/or curriculum…”

“This is not okay…”

So you’re going to hear a lot in the coming weeks and months about how the provincial government “listened” to the little people and is therefore keeping elected school boards and the province’s 28 school divisions.

And that will be spin and conjecture.

They may be keeping them, but they’re also neutering them, leaving us to foot the bill for said boards and trustees to sit around and twiddle their thumbs for the next three years, not doing what we democratically elected them to do.

In addition to all this, according to the government’s education funding news release, overall education funding, including capital and other (ie Kidsfirst) programming, is down by 6.7 per cent.

Which, of course, is balls, but it’s even more balls because I highly doubt that’s where that funding deficit is going to wind up (remember that 200 per cent increase to the overall deficit they didn’t project last year?).

Speaking of Who Needs Literacy, the province is gutting funding for northern and regional (rural) libraries, and eliminating library funding for Saskatoon and Regina.

In Saskatoon, where Mayor Charlie Clark is already throwing out terms like “fiscal crisis“, that’s a 5 per cent operating cut to the city’s libraries. Not world-ending, but not great, when combined with the other cuts to municipalities.

For example, the $409 000 funding cut that will likely shut down the Meewasin Valley Authority.

Meantime, the provincial government has expropriated, for lack of a better word, the Wascana Centre so we can all pay for it, instead of just the citizens of Regina.

I’m going to leave this topic here, but this post certainly doesn’t reflect all of the information that came out today.

If you want to read about this dumpster fire (so long, optimism!) of a budget yourself, feel free to click here and peruse all the documents at your peril leisure. Enjoy!

For those of you who care, I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in media and public relations. Email me anytime at tammyrobert@live.ca

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30 replies »

  1. Would have been better and easier to just harmonize the PST & GST. More revenue, good for businesses, and eliminated the ministry of finance’s need for PST administration & audit.

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  2. Thanks for this. We homeschool and I hadn’t thought about the implications of this budget on government control over our choice. You’re right. Stealing our money is one thing, but eliminating our liberty is an entirely different matter.

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  3. This is a great and comprehensive article. Thank you for writing it.

    I had the same questions about Innovation Saskatchewan and I looked into it last year. The majority of the funding goes to public funded research agencies like the Canadian Light Source, VIDO-InterVac, Sask Health Research Foundation, Fedoruk Centre, etc. All of which are doing good work, so didn’t concern me at the time.

    If I remember accurately, I think it’s about a half million that goes to specific research project opportunities which are often oil or mining companies if the research will help SK. Will be interesting to see if this changes or not in the future. The annual reports should be available on the agency’s website.

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  4. I think the only reason my head didn’t explode yesterday is because something of roughly this shape seemed unavoidable after the last provincial election and I’ve been bracing for the shock ever since. How my head didn’t explode when those election results came in I can’t even speculate. Thanks very much for laying all this out in an easily understood format; it can’t be easy wading through all that fermented circumlocution.

    I’m a little less sanguine on the point of STC than you seem. Apart from some tinfoil-hat thoughts about this being a test work-around on selling off the profitable Crowns (I notice we are selling off the material assets of STC without, technically, selling STC itself), I’m socialist enough to see the cost of running it as an element of living in a really big province with extremely low population density; an item of infrastructure which supports those outside the major centres, without whom the major centres would get pretty hungry in short order. *Of course* it’s not profitable– that’s why it’s being handled by the government.

    …but that’s just one pearl of unnecessary misery, built around a nucleus of foolish mismanagement, in the whole great string of them this budget represents.

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  5. Without seeing the line item for CNIB’s additional $250,000 in funding, I’m wondering if it it might be related to preliminary costs related to Brandt Developments’ proposed building in Regina’s Wascana Centre, where the CNIB will rent space.

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  6. First of all, let me say this government has made some blunders in spending that has cost us a lot of money, but so have other governments. A business (which is what a province is) can do three things; grow, remain stagnant, or decline. We had many years of stagnant economies in this province and its only been the last ten or so where this province grew, people have moved here, new homes, small business, etc have all grown. But just like a global company, there are risks that are taken in exchange for the potential to grow and sometimes those risks fail. Bill Gates, google and facebook are all massively successful, but they too had major losses in some of their ventures in order to be successful.

    You have some very valid comments about the numbers and exactly what they did in this budget, but the rest of your stance is laughable. Let me tell you why:

    First, you say a budget is an estimate and not worth the paper they are written on. Guess what, a budget is an estimate and here’s why. Let’s use a family’s yearly budget as an example. They budget $X for gas, mortgage, utilities, food, school supplies, etc right down to the exact dollar. So far so good. Then during the year a storm damages your property and hail pounds your two vehicles. Now they have a $1000 deductible for fixing their home, $700 x2 = $1400 deductibles for fixing their cars. Then later in the year they have to replace their brakes on their car. Another unforeseen $500. Then their furnace heat exchanger cracks after years of use an they now have $5000 to spend on a furnace. Gee, I guess we need to belittle them because they overspent their spendable cash that year and had to borrow from the bank to pay for it (a deficit). Or they could have lived with a damaged home (which would likely cause more damage and $ to repair down the road) and damaged vehicles, no heated in the winter without a working furnace, etc. So then the banker (who give them the money to use, much like taxpayers do the government) calls them in and wants to know, “do you have a plan to pay it back?” If they say “no, we just plan on spending as much in our budget as we planned last year because we still want all the things we had last year and we just hope we don’t have unforeseen expenses this year”, the banker is going to say “no, you can’t keep spending more than you have coming in otherwise your debt will just grow. You have to make cuts to your budget to pay us back.” Financial advisors who work with people who are deep in debt always say the first thing that must be done is trim the expenses. Keep the absolute necessities but the rest is either reduced or gone. The province is no different, just a much larger scale.

    No one has mentioned the unforeseen expenses this government could in no way budget for the last 2 years. For 2 years, we’ve seen record spending and costs on massive forest fires that if they hadn’t had that expense, that cost alone could have wiped out nearly half this deficit. But I guess they could have left them burn, ruin our tourism and leave people homeless to keep a balanced budget.

    Second, you talk about how they raised taxes that will cost the people more money out of their pockets. That is true and I don’t like paying more either. But then you also blame them for having a deficit. There is only two real ways a government can get their money to spend each year; one is royalties from natural resources of which they have no control over world trade prices and the second is taxation (both income and business) which they do control. So when one major source is down like natural resources, if you want them to not have a deficit yet keep STC, keep all jobs, keep maintaining highways, keep maintaining parks, libraries, etc, they MUST increase taxes as that is the only other revenue source available. But yet you shame them for the taxes they did raise.

    How do you propose to keep all the same programs (which means having the same expenditures as last year) plus not have any unforeseen expenses and money for those and yet not increase taxes to pay for it? Increase royalties on resources (something I hear quite often)? Sure, and what we have coming in right now will be gone since these companies can move back to Alberta or go to Manitoba. That’s not the answer.

    I keep reading from NDP supporters that Wall should have diversified and not stuck all his eggs on natural resources. No problem. I ask them for examples and they can’t give me any. We aren’t going to get auto makers to move manufacturing here. We can’t expand lumber, we can’t start fishing, we can’t force tech companies to spend billions just to move here. Oh, wait, Brad has gotten a lot of companies and industries to invest here by lowering corporate taxes so there is an advantage to coming here and creating more jobs. We could expand our manufacturing. Oh, wait, Brad has travelled the globe promoting Sask manufacturing and now ag and tech companies who build seeders, sprayers, monitoring systems, electronics, etc ship all over the world. Manufacturing is one of the growing industries in Sask according to stat’s Canada.

    I have voted for different colors over my 30yrs of being eligible to vote and each time my vote depended on who had the most common sense plan, is not feeding me a bunch of promises we all know can’t be kept, and who had a vision of growth for this province.

    I’m not saying the SP is god’s gift to politics, but neither are the NDP. Mr. Witherspoon has been asked multiple times in interviews what exactly he would now do to fix the problems and every time his response has been “we’d do whatever we could.” What kind of answer is that? They then asked for specifics (in other words, what’s your plan) and he had nothing. He deflected back to money being wasted. So they ask him what’s his plan to stop the waste and again nothing. Just more deflection.

    Criticism is not a bad thing. We learn more from the things we do wrong than the things we do right. But if you want to criticize a government, you better have a plan, be willing to discuss it, and be open about it. So far, the NDP have nothing.

    I’d rather be hit in the face with the cold truth than given a hug full of lies. This budget gave us the cold truth. But they also have a plan, which currently the NDP do not. If they do, then I will listen. If it’s solid and shows potential, I may even vote for them next time. But so far, nothing.

    This article you wrote had the potential to be really good. Unfortunately you are unrealistic in wanting all the programs kept, the same or more money being spent, but don’t want a deficit and don’t want higher taxes to pay for it. Nice pipe dream.

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      • What does any of this have to do with sexism, being a male or female? You sound a little bitter someone provided a valid criticism of your article seeing how you can only reply with a sexist remark.

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      • Thanks, that is a good example. We did have a pretty good one. Unfortunately it was still very small in regards to ecomonic contribution to the provincial purses. I agree it would be nice to see it back once again. But I don’t see it being a major financial contributor providing hundreds of millions of dollars revenue towards a multi-billion dollar budget as I can’t see Sask becoming a little Toronto or Vancouver. Plus it was as much government funded/subsidized as it was private funded which meant it cost taxpayers to have those jobs. That being said, it would creat a few jobs and provide exposure for the province.

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      • Also Dirck, not dwelling on the shoulda, coulda, wouldas, how would you propose starting the film industry back up at this time? Should the government fund it or allow tax breaks to try and attrack foreign investment into it? If government funded, should they increase taxes, add to a deficit, or cut other programs to fund it and still keep the budget as close to balance as possible?

        I ask this because it is a valid idea, we just need a realistic approach to it and am interested in your thoughts.

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      • So what common sense plan did you vote for this time, Realist? He went into the election too chicken to table a budget. Should have been a pretty good indicator of what was coming down the line, me thinks? And yes, we’re kind of stuck with a resource economy, so wouldn’t cha think that maybe, just maybe, he’d have tried to manage that red hot, ten year streak of luck with just a bit more aplomb? ‘Cause we all know the bust is coming, every time. Every time.

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  7. Actually, it was a tax credit, which just meant that the production itself got a break on the taxes it had to pay, rather than getting money (a la The Corner Gas Movie and the very few others after Wolf Cop) from the government– while they just didn’t put in much in the way of taxes, they didn’t take out, which cost the taxpayers nothing.

    Where this was good for the province is in the maelstrom of sub-trades that swirls around film shoots; even if the provincial government wasn’t getting a huge taste of the money, you had money moving from the production company to (some) local actors, film crews, sound technicians, carpenters, electricians, make-up folks, hair dressers, costumers, caterers and the hotels that people like Nicole Kidman, John Hannah and Nicolas Cage stayed in. All that meant loads of people employed here and taking in income and thus all paying income tax, and that is where the provincial economy AND the provincial coffers benefited even from the relatively piddling $5- to $10-million films that were being made here with some regularity.

    Yeah, not a huge contribution, but NOT a drain; the fact that this contribution was cut off for reasons so plainly ideological even the provincial Chamber of Commerce called it an asinine decision is suggestive that there are PLENTY of other little income streams that the Sask Party smothered in their beds (if I can mix a metaphor) that might not have saved the day if we had still gotten to the end of the resource boom with our collective pockets turned out, but they might have cushioned the shock a little.

    (also, I notice that you quite amiably poke “like” on your own comments. I’ll continue my policy of not doing that on mine, however clever I may think I’m being)

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  8. “how would you propose starting the film industry back up at this time?”

    Holy crap, given how much was spent by people in the industry moving away, enticing them back would be a nightmare, given that they’ve all set up in places that FOLLOWED SASKATCHEWAN’S LEAD and have a functioning tax credit system in place. If it’s to be done at all, let it be through the same sort of tax credit as previous, but it will be a mighty uphill struggle. What we had before we had because we got in right after BC, when it was just them and Ontario offering that sort of incentive. Now it’s pretty much everywhere expect here, so we’d just be chasing along behind the bandwagon.

    It’s like asking how I propose to fix a car someone set off a stick of dynamite in– going back in time and preventing the fuse from being lit is almost the easiest option.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/1389.php

    Read Stevens and Smith’s analysis of the budget.

    This heavy handed austerity budget with its strong emphasis on consumption taxes while lowering income taxes on the wealthy and corporations is just strategy to let the resource sector off scot free. The oil and gas sector must start to pay their way before these assets are stranded. My lord even Saudi Arabia and Qatar are investing in renewable energy.

    Mr. Realist lays out the lamest justification for the most perfidious budget in Saakatchewan’s history.

    Like

    • The last I read, all tax brackets were receiving a tax decrease including low and middle class, so how is that only benefiting the wealthy?

      The NDP fans are saying Sask should have diversified more to be less dependent on natural resource prices. So who do you think creates and supplies jobs in any province, Santa Clause? The governments? Corporations and small businesses, that’s who. In order to diversify, we need to provide an advantage for new businesses to come here and for ones already here to expand, both creating more jobs. The best way to do that is providing a tax advantage for them to come here. But hey, let’s raise corporate taxes so they all leave and take their jobs with them. We could raise corporate taxes to 25% or more and that will provide more money for the provincial coffers, right? How much tax will Sask collect at 25% tax rate on nothing, because these jobs will be gone when these companies leave to go somewhere else. Stats Canada shows the largest job creation sector has been manufacturing. But hey, let’s tax these companies like crazy and force them to leave.

      As far as the resource sector getting off scot free, Stat Canada shows that industry has lost nearly 2200 jobs in the last 2 years….. many times more than the job loss the public sector is facing. And for those who still have their jobs, the majority have taken a wage cut ranging from 20-35%. Add in that most are now lucky to work 6-7 months of the year and these people have taken around a 50% cut in what they make. PLUS the majority do this without full pensions, full medical/dental plans, EDO’s every second week, etc. So don’t say the people working in that industry are getting off scot free. Pull your head out of your ass!

      Let’s compare public sector workers to the people who work in the resource industry, shall we. The majority of the public sector get to sleep in their own beds at night, work within the same community they live (minutes from home), get to see their kids ball games, school activities, have a life with their family plus get full benefits and a pension plan, earned EDO’s every second week, etc. I realize there are those that work 12 hour shifts and work in dangerous jobs like police and firefighters, but that’s not the majority of public sector workers. Now let’s look at the resource industry worker. Most live away from home, sleep in bunk houses, eat camp food or worse, quick junk meals, work hours range from 7 days straight of 12-14 hr days all the way up to 21-28 days straight of 12-14 hour days to earn a few days off. During that time away, they miss their kid’s activities, spouses basically raise kids alone, plus have no pensions, full medical plans, etc. And now they do all this for about 50% of what they used to make.

      Critics will always criticize budgets, of every government. If the NDP were in, they be criticizing their budget too. Because creating controversy is what sells.

      But other provinces are praising this budget (except Notley because it shows how inept she is) because it includes a plan. We could ask Mr. Witherspoon for the umpteenth time what the NDP would do to fix this just to hear the exact same answer; “We’d do anything we could!” Yeah, that’s an answer. He couldn’t even give reports examples when asked. He just kept deflecting on what has happened in the past. Why? Because he has no plan.

      When the people of other provinces are asking Brad to come to their province, and many people across the country have asked him to run federally, that tells me many complainers here just don’t know how green our grass is here when compared to other provinces.

      Then you sound off about the wealthy. I am nowhere near wealthy, actually more lower middle class and I have no problem with the wealthy. Wealthy people for the most part, have worked extremely hard to get wealthy. Many are business owners who sacrificed family time to work 18 hr days for years to get wealthy. Many risked everything they owned to start their own business. Now many are the ones supplying and creating jobs in their businesses. But it sounds fare that someone working guaranteed hours for a guaranteed wage, guaranteed benefits, guaranteed holidays and EDO’s, all without risking a damn thing get to criticize others.

      I am sick and tired of hearing about this sense of entitlement, especially from some of the public sector. We are entitled to earn EDO’s, to negotiate a wage increase every 2-3 yrs, to get full benefits, pensions, plus not be affected by downturns in the economy or more difficult times. And if any of this fails, we are entitled to strike until employers give in.

      I grew up learning the only things you are entitled to are this: if you do you job to the best of your ability today, you are entitled to come back and do it again tomorrow. If you don’t like your job or your pay/package, you are entitled to go out and find another job.

      As for other renewable energy sources, I agree we need to develop those in order to move away from dependency on non-renewable resources of energy. But that doesn’t happen over night. As we do this and make the transitions, we will still rely on natural resources.

      Like

  10. To the Realist: Well here’s what I learned. When times are good save money and pay down debt. Don’t spend for what you can’t afford to buy. Did the SP set money aside when we had record potash and oil prices. Nope. And it’s made worse when the SP spent money like drunken sailors, unsustainable when resource prices fell, which Brad and his geniuses never seemed to think would happen.

    Like

    • Glen, you don’t have to preach to me about saving. This boom we’ve had the last 7-8 years has allowed my family to make more money and we’ve put enough away that we could live without jobs at all for a year or two if needed. But you and I are not most people.

      The public expects the government to put money away during the good times, yet the debt load for people during this good time has gone from owning $1.25 for every dollar they make to $1.65 for every dollar they make. And now they complain about not being able to afford anything. People can’t even save their own money. They’ve spend every dollar and more than what the boom brought them. New housing set records, automobile industry had record years, recreational sales (boats, quads, campers, etc) all had really good years, people are going away every winter on vacations, etc. The problem is that now this has become the new norm. They now expect to make more money every year. What they don’t realize is that if you benefit during the boom, you’d better put some away for the down times because everyone has to pay. They can’t’ have all the benefits of a boom and then also be protected from the down times. Life doesn’t work that way.

      Personally, yes my family has benefited income wise from the boom. Yes we have expanded our standard of living and lifestyle but nowhere near the extra this boom brought us. We didn’t build a new $600K house with $6K property taxes. Our house is a 1982, and is now paid for. Yes we drive new(er) vehicles but they aren’t fully loaded, leather top of the line. We do have newer snowmobiles, but our boat is a 1983. We could have went out an bought a brand new $30K boat, but we made choices of what we did want to spend a little more on and what we didn’t.

      Yes, the NDP had a small surplus when they were in government (so why can’t the SP, right?) The NDP got that boom from closing down record numbers of hospitals, turning more into “health centers”, they spend nothing on infrastructure as our highways were a joke, (the SP has spend record $ on highways the last 2 years and again in this years budget), and taxes were high. The public sector had low wages that were nowhere near what comparable jobs made in other provinces also.

      The first thing that happened when the SP got into power was the public sector unions lined up and demanded wage increases. And they got it. People cried over our highways and look at what has been spent (as well as other infrastructure). People cried about high taxes and now we have one of the lowest tax rates in the country. When we add the income tax rate and the PST we pay now, we still pay 30% less than we did when the SP first got into power after the NDP. The public cried “we need more health care people”. Ten years ago there were around 9-10,000 RNs (SUN was promoting the almost 8000 members) and now there are around 12,000 (as Sun is promoting around 10,000). We have more LPN’s, etc. and all these people have gotten healthy raises over the SP time. Check out Stats Canada. We have more teachers now, more healthcare workers, more public sector employees in general. We actually have more teachers and healthcare workers per capita than Alberta (not much more, but more).

      One thing that also hasn’t been discusses is the unforeseen expenses that no government could predict. Half this deficit would be gone if we didn’t have record setting fires and floods over the last 3-4 years. How does any government prepare for this? Mind you, the NDP would have just let the province burn and flood because they don’t spend taxpayer’s money.

      Anyone who thinks the SP should have put a rainy day fund aside doesn’t know his head from his ass. If the SP has a $1.3B rainy day fund to balance this out, I can already see the headlines; “Sask Part Hording Taypayer’s Money!!” and they’d be getting crucified even more. People don’t allow a government to keep their taxpayer’s money. They always DEMAND the government spend it. If they don’t spend it, the public sector strikes. So if you want it spent during the boom, you bet your ass you better be prepared to lose things during a down time.

      I laugh at the people who cried about STC being shut down. They mocked the SP who stated they believed the private sector would step up and NDP sheep crucified them. Over the last week, multiple private sector businesses have applied to take over the STC routes. Perhaps the SP was right? Heaven forbid!!! Now we are hearing people crying about how it will cost people more money to use this private sector transportation. Shouldn’t it? The taxpayer has been subsidizing bus riders for years. But of course NDP sheep will continue to bitch.

      I don’t understand how people are following a party (NDP) who have an interim leader who hasn’t had a single answer when asked what the NDP would now do in this situation. He only has one answer all the time; “We’d do everything we could.” Really, now that’s a plan. Reporters asked for examples. He gave none. He just dwelled on the past and what they wouldn’t have done. Now there’s a party to believe in. Again, no plan.

      Like

  11. Realist has misrepresented the comment that the resource sector got off scot free in the budget. The comment was not directed at resource sector employees; it was referring to the owner/shareholders and executives of these corporations and small businesses who got tax reductions worth many millions. Going forward PST increases will now become the government’s cash cow.

    Realist goes on an on about the tough working conditions facing employees in the resource sector: long hours, no pensions,(not entirely correct), no benefits, living in camps etc. This description makes it sound as though resource companies are seriously exploiting their own employees. Of course, resource industry workers made a free choice to work in that particular industry just like the individuals freely chose to work in the public sector. What’s the point in trying to divide workers and create dissension/resentment among workers?

    Realist also gives far too much credit to the individual efforts of wealthy for the gains they make.

    1. Wealthy people get even more wealthy at each round of bargaining. (Did you happen to notice that the President of Cameco has cashed in on a $1 million raise since the budget announcement?)

    2. If one person has ten times the assets as the other, and both are equally skilled, the first person is ten times more likely to win. The person with more assets will win nine times out of ten. It is a self reinforcing mechanism. (Markov Chain)

    2. There is no societal mechanism that keeps the wealthy’s outcomes within reasonable bounds.

    3. Success in competition is not always determined by the traits or behavioral patterns we would prefer to associate with success. Sometimes violence, aggression, trickery, recklessness, and mendacity are winning traits. (Per Molander, 2014)

    4. These four factors above explain in part the growing economic inequality in economies.

    5. The effect of the budget will undoubtedly lead to greater economic inequality in Saskatchewan

    Like

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