Report from the Legislature – December 14, 2017

Saskatchewan economic growth is projected to lead Canada in both 2018 and 2019 at a rate of 2.7%.  Policy matters and so too does the vision, determination and hard work of the entrepreneurs and workers who have built and maintained our province’s resilient and diversified economy.

Saskatchewan has now enjoyed a decade of growth and our government is working to ensure we keep growing stronger. This fall we outlined our plan to strengthen our economy, continue improving important services, protect our communities, and carefully manage the province’s finances.

During the most recent sitting of the legislature, our government passed a bill allowing small business to pay less tax on more income.  The bill extends the lower 2% tax rate and gives employers greater incentive to hire more workers, and invest in new capital right here in Saskatchewan.

Unfortunately, the Saskatchewan NDP stood in the Legislature and voted against these measures.  In fact, they went so far as to call small business owners and entrepreneurs “elites” and they even complained that these tax changes only help the “wealthy and well-connected”.

Our government recognizes and appreciates the huge contribution small business owners make to Saskatchewan and we will continue to stand up for them.

These new tax measures mean that Saskatchewan will soon have the highest small business income threshold in Canada, building upon our government’s record of creating one of the strongest investment climates in the country, achieving our province’s first-ever Aaa credit rating, and among the strongest national job and wage growth over the last decade.

Just recently, for the third straight year, The C.D. Howe Institute revealed that Saskatoon has the most competitive tax rates for business investments of any major city in Canada.  The annual report, which compares marginal effective tax rates across the country, ranked Saskatoon as more favourable than Calgary, which, prior 2015, had the lowest rate.  In fact, the provincial tax burden in Alberta is referenced as a significant contributor to Calgary’s slide in the rankings.

This C.D. Howe ranking was determined by measuring different taxes that affect businesses, including retail sales taxes, corporate income taxes, property taxes and land transfer taxes, among others.  Policy matters and while this report ranks Saskatoon as the top city, the news also reflects positively on the tax competitiveness across the entire province.  Since 2009, the province has provided residents, business owners and farmers $1.2 billion in education property tax relief.

Our province needs to fund important social investments while maintaining this competitiveness, and that’s why we’ve moved towards consumption taxes.  While the NDP votes against measures to support small business, we are working to maintain investment and opportunity in the province.

The conclusion of the fall sitting of the Legislature provides an opportunity to reflect on an ambitious legislative agenda that included needed support for survivors of interpersonal violence.

I’m proud to say that our government worked together with the Opposition on legislation to provide survivors with 10 days of unpaid job protected leave to access services or relocate – part of our government’s larger effort to address the issue of interpersonal violence in Saskatchewan.

We recognize that interpersonal violence continues to be a serious problem for Saskatchewan families.  In addition to this legislation we need to see a shift in attitudes about acceptable behavior and we need to develop measures to identify and prevent abusive relationships.

We will continue to work with our partners to develop long-term solutions.  As a first step, the province will be working with other jurisdictions to seek agreement from the federal government to extend employment insurance benefits for survivors of interpersonal violence.

During the fall sitting, our government also moved to:

  • Fulfill its commitment to provide individualized funding to children under six with Autism Spectrum Disorder;
  • Improve the rate of organ donation in the province through a new program led by donor physicians;
  • Continue reducing health care administration costs through the consolidation of the province’s 12 regional health authorities into a single Saskatchewan Health Authority;
  • Introduce legislation to facilitate the federal government’s legalization of the use of non-medical marijuana, even though the province continues to have concerns about the federal government’s rushed timetable;
  • Work with municipalities to allow ride sharing-services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Saskatchewan;
  • Amend The Privacy Act to allow greater protection against the unauthorized electronic distribution of intimate images;
  • Create a process to improve the disclosure of decisions made by the Office of Residential Tenancies (Rentalsman’s Office) to better protect the rights of both tenants and landlords;
  • Continue to improve internet and cellular coverage throughout rural Saskatchewan;
  • Introduce an Agriculture Value Added New Growth Incentive to attract more investment; and
  • Introduce a new Seniors Education Property Tax Deferral Program that will give seniors with household incomes under $70,000 the option to defer the education portion of property tax on their homes.

While our government remains focused on innovative ideas to improve the lives of Saskatchewan people, the NDP continues to oppose our efforts without a plan of their own.

For example, when our government introduced a made-in-Saskatchewan climate change plan, something the NDP has asked for repeatedly, they voted against it.

When we introduced tax amendments to support small businesses in the province and spur economic growth, the NDP voted against it without proposing any alternatives.

And when we introduced legislation so ride-sharing services can operate in Saskatchewan as a tool to combat drunk driving, the NDP made it clear that they are against that too.

Even after a decade of growth, there is still a lot of work to do.

Our government has introduced many new ideas and initiatives and I’m excited to continue with our plan to keep Saskatchewan growing stronger.