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The Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees is urging the provincial government to focus on reinvestment in social programs instead of further tax cuts in the budget to be delivered on March 30.

“Taxes are the price of living in a civilized society,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “The provincial government cannot continue to cut taxes, as the business lobby is urging, and at the same time maintain quality public services that are accessible to all.”

Graham said that last years provincial budget delivered exactly what the Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wanted - a new, regressive tax structure that will cut income tax revenues by one third.

“We hope this years budget will pay more heed to the public interest rather than kowtowing to the vested interests. The vast majority of people in this province favour investment in social programs over tax cuts,” said Graham. He cited a government poll taken after the 2000 provincial budget that found 70 per cent of Saskatchewan residents would have preferred the provincial government to spend more on health, education and highways instead of cutting taxes.

CUPE Saskatchewan is hoping the provincial budget will announce substantial, multi-year funding for community-based organizations to eliminate wage and benefit inequities with comparable provincial government jobs.

Graham is also looking for pay equity legislation, increased funding for universities, a boost in municipal grants, a publicly funded and administered ambulance system, extra funds for staff recruitment, retention and job evaluation in health care, and increased funding for K-12 education to move the province closer to assuming 60% of total costs.

CUPE represents over 23,000 members in Saskatchewan who work at health care facilities, school boards, municipalities, universities, libraries and community-based organizations.

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For more information, contact:
Tom Graham, 229-8171