PST hike and ex­pan­sion hurt­ing us all in Saskatchewan

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Opinion -

Ed­i­tor

Over the past num­ber of months, I’ve heard se­ri­ous con­cerns from peo­ple and lo­cal busi­nesses across the prov­ince about the Sask. Party’s de­ci­sion to hike and ex­pand the PST — how it threat­ens their liveli­hoods and is hurt­ing our econ­omy.

In the 2017-18 bud­get, the Sask. Party rammed through a dras­tic hike that dou­bled the amount Saskatchewan peo­ple pay in PST each year. They in­creased it from five per­cent to six per­cent and ex­panded it to cover goods and ser­vices not pre­vi­ously cov­ered like con­struc­tion labour, in­sur­ance, chil­dren’s clothes and restau­rant meals. They ig­nored the di­rect and dire warn­ings from lo­cal busi­nesses of how this would fur­ther slow down an al­ready strug­gling econ­omy and cost many work­ers their jobs.

This un­fair tax hike on the mid­dle class has hit the con­struc­tion in­dus­try par­tic­u­larly hard. The value of build­ing per­mits is down 20 per­cent year over year. The num­ber of res­i­den­tial build­ing per­mits has dropped 30 per cent from a year ear­lier.

When I was in Moose Jaw, I heard from lo­cal busi­nesses that in Moose Jaw alone, the num­ber of new homes built has dropped from 120 new builds in 2012 to only 10 this year. This has hit work­ers hard, leav­ing 14,000 fewer peo­ple em­ployed in con­struc­tion to­day than in 2015. Sadly, many con­struc­tion work­ers are forced to leave for other prov­inces where the like­li­hood of find­ing full-time work is higher.

The Sask. Party’s PST hike is also driv­ing up the cost of liv­ing, leav­ing less money in the pock­ets of hard­work­ing peo­ple. Restau­rants have thus been hit with a dou­ble whammy, with peo­ple cut­ting back on spend­ing while the in­dus­try has also been hit hard by the im­po­si­tion of the PST onto restau­rant meals. Since the PST was hiked and ex­panded, restau­rants have been strug­gling. Restau­rants Canada data shows food ser­vice sales growth in Saskatchewan is far be­hind prov­inces like Al­berta.

Through the PST in­crease, the Sask. Party is cre­at­ing ad­di­tional hard­ships for peo­ple who are al­ready strug­gling. It is a clear ex­am­ple of mak­ing peo­ple, lo­cal busi­nesses and work­ers pay for the Sask. Party’s years of fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment and their costly and mis­man­aged projects such as the Regina By­pass, the car­bon cap­ture de­ba­cle and the GTH.

The record is clear: dur­ing years of record rev­enue, the Sask. Party was un­able to bal­ance the bud­get. Dur­ing the best years, they didn’t save a dime. They drained the prov­ince’s Rainy Day Fund and piled on debt through mis­man­age­ment. They’ve dou­bled the debt and dou­bled the PST. It’s clear they’ve made the wrong choices, choices that hurt peo­ple and harm the econ­omy. And it’s mid­dle class fam­i­lies that are forced to pay for this mis­man­age­ment.

It’s clear the Sask. Party gov­ern­ment can­not be trusted with Saskatchewan’s fi­nances. They should re­verse the ad­di­tion of PST to con­struc­tion labour, in­sur­ance, restau­rant meals and chil­dren’s clothes to lower costs and help the econ­omy re­cover and cre­ate needed jobs. Saskatchewan peo­ple, lo­cal busi­nesses and work­ers de­serve noth­ing less.

Trent Wother­spoon is the NDP Fi­nance Critic and MLA for Regina Rose­mont.

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