The Saskatchewan Party and NDP have released their platforms as voters come closer to election day.
Those who believe less is more might prefer the Saskatchewan Party. They promise $851.8 million in new spending and to eliminate the deficit by 2024-25.
The NDP platform will cost $2.1 billion over 5 years and will run a deficit of continued deficits even in 2024-25. The party says it will hire an “expert panel” to chart a return budget to balance at some undetermined date.
“Deep cuts that hurt people and our economy are a bad idea at any time, but during a pandemic they are downright dangerous,” said NDP Leader Meili.
“We know that across Saskatchewan, communities are pulling together to fight COVID-19, but Scott Moe has chosen a path that will make life tougher for families. It doesn’t have to be that way. The people of Saskatchewan have a choice. They can choose an NDP government that puts people first.”
New measures implemented by the party would include restoring the film employment tax credit, removing the PST from construction labour, reducing the craft beer tax, and taxing people with a net worth of $15 million or a more an additional one per cent. They also want to reduce classroom sizes and resurrect the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, a former crown corporation that was a perennial money-loser.
“Scott Moe’s old ideas aren’t working for ordinary families. More Sask. Party cuts aren’t the way to rebuild our province,” Meili said. “We need to invest in people. Invest in health care. In seniors. In our kids’ schools. We need to diversify our economy and get families and our province moving forward again.”
As Premier Moe announced the Sask Party platform, he boasted of the latest Statistics Canada employment figures that showed 8,700 new jobs in Saskatchewan in September.
“The question in this election is – who do you trust to lead a strong economic recovery in Saskatchewan?“ Moe said. “If you compare the Saskatchewan Party’s plan and our record to the NDP’s, the answer is pretty clear.”
Many of the Sask Party plans were announced prior to the election call. Urgent care centres were announced for Regina and Saskatoon for $15 million each, designed to relieve hospital emergency rooms. A crystal meth treatment centre opened in Estevan and $1.2 million for suicide prevention funding was promised.
Many school building school renovation projects are forthcoming and schools will receive $51 million in pandemic support. Many of the education, health, and highways announcements were part of the broader $7.5 billion two-year capital investment plan.
“We have a plan to make life more affordable – for students, seniors, families, homeowners and everyone,” Moe said.
“Our plan means a strong economy, strong communities and strong families, and together, that means a strong economy, strong communities and strong families, and together, that means a strong Saskatchewan.”
Since the election call, the Saskatchewan Party has promised a 10 per cent rebate this coming year on power bills at a cost of $261.6 million. It will also eliminate small business taxes through 2022, climbing to one per cent in 2023, and two per cent in 2024.
In addition, the Sask Party would add 750 licensed home-based child care spaces, higher childcare provider grants, and tax credits for children’s activities. Financial support for children with autism and diabetes would be expanded.
Seniors would get a 50 per cent cut in ambulance fees, and no ambulance fees from hospital to hospital. The Seniors Income Plan would rise from $270 to $360 per month. An additional 300 care aids would be hired for long term and home care.
Community rinks and the Royal Canadian Legion would get more provincial help. The Saskatchewan Advantage scholarship would rise to $750 per year.
Trade offices will open in Tokyo, Singapore and New Delhi, focusing on agricultural exports.
Twenty actions for 2020 include growth of the resource economy, lowering interprovincial trade barriers, increasing Indigenous employment, reducing carbon emissions in power production, and developing small nuclear reactors.
Thirty goals for 2030 include growing the population to 1.4 million people and creating 100,000 new jobs. More canola and pulse crop processing, increasing oil production by 25 per cent, doubling the forestry sector, and tripling the tech sector are also benchmarks. Ten thousand kilometres of highways will be built or upgraded and surgical wait times will be reduced to three months.
The Sask Party has a few cards it still holds to its chest. Three additional initiatives will be announced in the coming days. Moe said the 50-page platform will be sent to all voters.
Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Correspondent for the Western Standard
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