Saskatchewan

Revenue sharing should be 'reflective' of provincial revenue: Premier

Municipalities had a bigger benefit than the province when it came to revenue sharing and grants in lieu of taxes, Premier Brad Wall said on Tuesday.

Revenue sharing has had bigger benefit for municipalities than province, says Brad Wall

The premier said the government tried to be as even-handed as possible when it was considering budget cuts to urban and rural funding. (Adam Hunter/CBC)

Municipalities had a bigger benefit than the province when it came to revenue sharing and grants in lieu of taxes, Premier Brad Wall said on Tuesday.

Wall addressed growing concerns from both rural and urban residents in the province who are feeling the burn from last week's provincial budget cuts. The revenue sharing program in place is not reflective of the government's revenues, he added. 

"Revenue sharing for municipalities has increased significantly — to a greater degree — than actual revenue to the [provincial] government," the Premier said. 

"As government revenue goes up, so should be the amount we share with municipalities."

Wall noted while municipalities are concerned about the grants in lieu from Crown corporations being cut, rural residents are concerned with the costs associated with the education property tax hike which the province hopes will bring in $67 million in additional funds.

"Rural communities and leaders are concerned that they'll face what appears to be a disproportionate share of the insurance now that's subject to PST," Wall said.

Crop and hail insurance, under the new rules, are no longer exempt, placing a bigger hit on the wallets of farmers. Rural school divisions are also looking at bigger cuts than anticipated, according to Wall. 

"We've worked hard to be even-handed to make sure the budget's fair in terms of people sharing in some of the challenges," Wall said. 

The Premier acknowledged urban and rural issues weren't an "apples to apples" comparison.

"But there were other things in the budget that would — in my view — disproportionately affect rural Saskatchewan," he added.

Wotherspoon once again referred to the provincial budget as "deceitful," a sentiment which landed him in hot water with house speaker Corey Tocher last week. (Adam Hunter/CBC)

Opposition leader Trent Wotherspoon said the province's decisions have hurt everyone and again denounced the budget as "deceitful." Wotherspoon said the opposition would fight the cuts. 

Wotherspoon said citizens are upset at facing tax hikes while corporations receive tax breaks. 

"People have had enough, they're going to fight back," he said.

"Certainly we see that from our cities and towns, our common sense municipal leaders — when they have agreements broken and millions ripped back from them — they're going to stand up and fight for the communities that they serve," Wotherspoon said.

Cities have been facing million dollar shortfalls after the grants in lieu program was scrapped. Regina and Saskatoon's shortfalls have exceeded $10 million while the city of Yorkton has lost 58 per cent of its revenue sharing.

Municipal leaders have maintained that a better model could have been established if the province had consulted with them prior to the budget.

With files from Adam Hunter

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