Yesterday’s budget delivered disappointment and disrespect for working people and public services of Saskatchewan, says CUPE Saskatchewan.
“This budget continues the drastic underfunding of our public services while corporations and high-income earners continue to get off the hook by not paying their fair share,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “And let me be crystal clear: It was not this government that balanced the budget, but the working people of Saskatchewan who have had to pay more and get less.”
“The budget was balanced on the backs of our kids in our schools who are dealing with larger classes and less support. It was balanced by public sector workers who had to give up a wage increase, the municipalities who had to raise property taxes and user fees and the universities who had to raise tuition and cut programming.”
“The government may be happy they balanced the budget, but there is no relief for the families that have been paying more in additional costs and PST,” added Graham. “Our schools, universities, municipalities, community based organizations and health care facilities will still have to make ends meet with less funding in the face of increasing inflation.”
CUPE research has dug into the budget and unearthed many hidden cuts.
- Municipalities: Despite an increase to municipal revenue sharing to $251.6 million in this budget, this is still below the 2013-14 funding of $264.4 million.
Post-Secondary Education: Funding for universities and federated colleges is down $400 thousand, a troubling move considering the skyrocketing tuition fees, and labour unrest. This is the fourth year in a row that the budget for universities and federated colleges have been cut. In addition, there is a 44% cut to grants and scholarships available to students.
K-12 Education: Over the last two years, we have seen higher enrollment, crowded classrooms and staff cuts. This budget falls short of restoring the devastating cuts from the 2017-18 budget.
Government Debt: This government continues to pillage our profitable Crown Corporations, driving them into debt. The overall provincial debt continues to grow, despite the government’s insistence of a balanced budget. More troubling is the growth in debt for public-private partnerships (P3s).
Mental Health and Addictions: CUPE is pleased to see increased Mental Health and Addiction support but it falls short of the comprehensive provincial plan that we desperately need.
Senior’s Care: There is nothing in the budget that addresses the dire infrastructure deficiencies plaguing long-term care facilities across the province. Notably, there was nothing to address the urgent need to replace long-term care facilities in Regina and Grenfell.
- Childcare: Even though only 18 percent of children in Saskatchewan can access licensed daycares, the provincial budget cut funding to childcare spaces by $4 million down to $72.6 million from $76.8 million in the last fiscal year.
- Tax Fairness:The increase and expansion to the regressive PST has meant hard working Saskatchewan people are paying $1.1 billion more in sales tax since 2016. While the government closed some tax loopholes for potash companies, corporations are still paying less than their fair share. Projected revenue from corporate tax income is down $271 million since 2015-16.
Community Based Organizations:Funding for supports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities have been increased, but it is unclear if there is additional funding for group homes, women’s shelters, and crisis centers. There continues to be a need for stable, multi-year fund for this important sector.