Saskatchewan

Sask. Party platform adds $849M worth of promises on top of $7.5B spending plan

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe said Friday that he remains confident that his party would be able to balance the budget in four years if elected, but wouldn't answer what he would do if revenue doesn't come in as planned.

Party Leader Scott Moe unveiled platform in Saskatoon on Friday

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe unveiled his party platform Friday, detailing the cost of campaign promises and a goal to balance the budget by 2024-25. (CBC)

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe said Friday that he remains confident that his party would be able to balance the budget in four years if elected, but wouldn't answer what he would do if revenue doesn't come in as planned.

The province currently has an estimated $2.1-billion provincial deficit. Promises made by Moe and his party on the campaign trail would cost close to $849 million dollars, in addition to the $7.5 billion already promised for building hospitals, schools and highways during the next two years. 

Moe unveiled his platform at Remai Modern in Saskatoon, in a room overlooking the riverside spot where NDP Leader Ryan Meili stood unveiling his own party's platform at the same time. 

"We're very confident in the costing document that we have before you today. We're very confident in the revenue projections that we have that are here," Moe said.

Questioned about the uncertainty brought about by an unpredictable global pandemic, he emphasized his faith in the financial projections. 

Moe declined to answer whether his party would hike taxes or cut services — or whether the party would extend its own deadline to balance the budget — if revenue doesn't end up matching projections.

"I am not going to answer a hypothetical," he said.

Moe pointed to Saskatchewan's success in reopening the economy after the initial COVID-19 lockdown. He also said that even though the province has been tracking relatively low when it comes to COVID-19 cases, the province's economic future is not necessarily contingent on the virus going away, as people are learning how to work and interact safely.

"We are confident that this economic recovery that we are having in Saskatchewan is going to continue and we are going to be back to a very structurally sound budget."

When asked where the revenue would come from over the next four years, Donna Harpauer — who was the finance minister before the election was called —  said the majority is expected to come from federal government transfers, taxation and resource revenue.

She said the Sask. Party's projections include "keeping our reliance on non-renewable resources" at 10 to 12 per cent. Those projections come directly from industry. She said a large part of the revenue would also come from the provincial sales tax, and corporate and small business taxes.

Harpauer said the province is on track with the projections, "if not ahead of them already."

Moe said part of the party's platform emphasizes affordability for families, citing promises like the two-year home renovation tax credit, a one-year 10 per cent SaskPower rebate and a three-year tax reduction for small businesses. Moe also noted that these are time-based initiatives that will phase out. He denied that his party was buying votes with the short term promises, calling it "making investments."

The party has also pledged to create 750 licensed home-based child-care spaces, provide funding to kids living with autism up to the age of 12,  cover the cost of glucose monitoring up to 18 years old, reduce seniors' ambulance costs by 50 per cent and increase the post-secondary Sask. Advantage scholarship to $750/ year.

Moe's party has also promised to resurrect the community rink grant, which the Sask. Party cut in 2016 as the province faced "difficult decisions" in light of a $1-billion deficit. 

​The Sask. Party has also pledged to restart the Active Families Benefit, which was cut in 2016. The finance minister at the time said people were not using the credit and that there were better ways to provide funding.

The total cost of the new spending in the Saskatchewan Party platform is $93 million in the current fiscal year, $345.3 million in year 2021-22, $205.3 million in 2022-23, $123.6 million in 2023- 24 and $81.6 million in 2024-25. 

The Sask. Party said it would spend $30 billion on "infrastructure" in the next 10 years. 

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