Report from the Legislature
May 11, 2017
Our government is concerned with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) plan to end the local service subsidy regime.
Eliminating the subsidy designed to keep wireline voice service affordable in high cost areas would force SaskTel to raise the cost of telephone service.
This proposed plan would impact 100,000 SaskTel customers living on the farm, in small towns and villages, on First Nations and in Saskatchewan’s north.
If the subsidy regime is phased-out, the cost of telephone service for those affected could increase by between $110 and $320 per year, starting in 2018.
We strongly encourage rural residents, groups and associations to express their concern through the CRTC consultation process at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2017/2017-92.htm.
According to recently uncovered memos, the Trudeau government appears poised to tie federal transfers to a province’s position on the carbon tax.
Premier Wall has written to the Prime Minister for clarity.
Our government rejects the imposition of a federal carbon tax on Saskatchewan, that will threaten jobs and industries that would be unfairly targeted in our export-based economy.
From optimism in the oil and potash industry to increased building permits and improved manufacturing and exports statistics, Saskatchewan has been home to good economic news recently. With these things in mind, some have asked if there is still a need for difficult budget decisions.
The reality is that there is still a significant hole in our finances due to continued low commodity prices. Oil, potash and uranium prices all hit record lows and have stayed near the bottom. And while there is more economic activity, it’s because businesses have adapted to lower world prices.
As an example, oil companies are finding innovative methods to produce oil at lower costs, allowing more people to return to work.
As the economy adapts to low commodity prices, our province must adapt along with it. That is why our budget took specific measures to shift to more stable sources of revenue, focus on funding core government services, and return the budget to balance within three years.
This year’s budget also has specific measures to encourage investment and keep our economy strong. Measures which seem to get lost in the debate include two major policy shifts.
First, the tax shift away from resources, at a time when resource revenue is down more than a $1 billion with no prospect of a quick recovery.
And second, the shift away from productivity and income taxes to consumption taxes, a move that provides a more reliable stream of government revenue while encouraging people to invest and earn.
Reducing personal income taxes and lowering business income taxes will help attract new business and allow our companies to thrive and create good jobs that support families.
With this plan, Saskatchewan becomes less reliant on resource revenue and is in a position to eliminate the deficit while creating one of the most competitive tax systems in Canada.
When the plan is fully implemented, our province will have:
- The lowest corporate tax rate in Canada (tied with British Columbia);
- The lowest taxes on manufacturing and processing;
- Nation-leading research and development incentives;
- Among the lowest income taxes in Canada; and
- The lowest PST of any province with a PST
In addition, Saskatchewan citizens at every level of income will still pay significantly less income tax and PST than they did in 2007, and Saskatchewan families will continue to benefit from the second highest tax-free threshold in Canada.
Our government has also provided $34 million in new funding to the Saskatchewan Low-Income Tax Credit to help mitigate the impact of the tax changes on lower income residents.
And importantly, Saskatchewan will also be the only province without a carbon tax of any kind.
While other governments are choosing long-term deficit financing, our government is making tough but necessary choices to ensure our long-term prosperity.