The latest provincial budget will not put Saskatchewan back on fiscal track and will have a detrimental effect on public services in this province and on the lives of those who provide them, according to CUPE.
“The budget paints a clear picture of how poorly our province has been run over the last nine years, and it is not pretty,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “The Sask Party’s reckless decisions, like building P3 schools, embracing Lean contracts, and selling off public assets, got us into this mess. And now the only solution they have for a situation they created is to punish frontline workers and cut public services while decreasing taxes for their rich corporate donors.”
This budget included cuts to education funding, selling off the Saskatchewan Transportation Corporation, increases to long term care costs for families, reduction to regional parks funding, massive cuts for regional libraries, and funding decreases to post-secondary education.
Economic multipliers show that cuts to public spending are much worse for the economy than tax increases would be. Recent reports from the International Monetary Fund and Europe admit that austerity measures created economic hardship for the population but also increased their deficits and debts.
“When facing declining revenues from the resource sector, why is the Sask Party further reducing their own revenue with personal income and corporate tax reductions? This budget shows that the government has no idea how to properly manage Saskatchewan’s economy,” said Graham. “Wall seems to have little idea what to do about it other than cut services and workers’ pay cheques. Instead, the government should focus on growing and diversifying the economy, and maintaining the spending power of Saskatchewan people instead of putting people out of work.”
Economist Toby Sanger’s recent report Debunking the Deficit shows that Saskatchewan could achieve a balanced budget in a few years without drastic spending cuts by increasing and diversifying revenues and making the tax system fairer.
The government’s decision to raise the PST will hurt working people because increases in flat taxes take up a higher of percentage of lower incomes. The government could have looked at options such as closing tax loopholes for stock options and capital gains, cracking down on tax evaders and use of tax havens, hiking the top income tax rate to 17.5 per cent, restoring education property taxes so they provide at least 40 per cent of school board operating, and revenues.