Parents rip into Sask. plan to tax children's clothing

In a surprising and unwelcome move for some parents, the PST exemption for children's clothing was removed in this week's new Saskatchewan budget.

Clothing inclusion in PST 'not very helpful,' say moms and dads in Regina

A cashier works a cash register.
The Government of Saskatchewan announced in its budget this week that children's clothing would no longer be exempt from the provincial sales tax. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

As Saskatchewan braced for a tough budget, Premier Brad Wall had floated the idea of a "consumption" tax. So it was not a shock when the government increased the provincial sales tax in Wednesday's budget.

But one unwelcome surprise for many in the PST hike was the inclusion of children's clothing, something that had previously escaped the sales tax.

One parent CBC spoke with in Regina, Christa Rodgers, summed it up when she said that the government's tweak to the PST is "not very helpful."

Alex Azorg, a Regina dad, also expressed dismay at the government's decision.

'I'm living paycheque to paycheque.'- William Brown 

"I'm not happy. I wish they did not propose an increase because there will be more pressure on family finances."

When asked why the change was made, Finance Minister Kevin Doherty answered frankly.

"It's an avenue for some additional revenue," he said.

Overall, the government says the changes to PST will bring an additional $242 million in annual revenue, and Doherty hinted that "there was a tremendous amount of tax leakage on children's clothing."

The suggestion was that some PST-free clothes were not being purchased for children.

Parents already struggling

But parents were also frank in their reaction to the news that the province will take away another perk for those struggling to pay the bills.

CBC News spoke to parents waiting to pick up their children outside Arcola Community School in Regina.

"I am on a very strict budget," said Christine Johnstone. "I'm low income so I can't afford too much right now."

"I'm having a hard time paying for all my kids' stuff right now," added William Brown. "I'm living paycheque to paycheque."

There could be more potentially bad news for low-income parents — the government is also reviewing a program that helps parents pay for school supplies.

There's no word yet on how long that review will take.