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Saskatchewan Election 2020: Party Leaders' Survey

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Saskatchewan's provincial election took place on October 26th

The Saskatchewan Party was re-elected on October 26th. Before the election, CFIB sent out the 2020 Leaders' Survey on Small Business Priorities to all Party Leaders to find out where they stand on issues important to your business including taxation, spending, red tape, employment and training.

In particular, CFIB is pleased the Saskatchewan Party and Premier Moe committed to:

  • Temporarily reduce the small business corporate income tax rate from two per cent to zero, beginning Oct 1, 2020; 
  • Reduce SaskPower bills by 10 per cent for one year for all SaskPower customers; 
  • Balance the budget by 2024 – without tax increases or reductions in programs and services; 
  • Continue expanding reliable connectivity across Saskatchewan; and
  • Continue reducing red tape across all sectors wherever possible. 

For more information on these important business issues, please visit CFIB's Saskatchewan Election 2020  webpage.

Candidate Responses:

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan 

Saskatchewan Green Party

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party

Saskatchewan Party

Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan (DID NOT RESPOND)

Saskatchewan Liberal Party (DID NOT RESPOND)

 

Deliver needed small business tax relief to help economic recovery:

What is your plan to deliver immediate provincial tax relief for small businesses to help speed up Saskatchewan’s economic recovery?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

We would cut provincial sales taxes including those on new homes and used cars. We would position our small business taxes to be the most competitive in Canada. We would institute a manufacturers sales tax credit to be an incentive for new manufacturing business start ups.

Saskatchewan Green Party

Before providing any tax relief for any businesses, our Sask Green Party government would have to open the budgetary books and resolve the overspending of the previous government. We would immediately work to ensure provincial supports for small businesses who are struggling to help get through this temporary period of economic turbulence. Long term we would work collectively with small business owners to help create thriving sustainability in their businesses.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

Saskatchewan’s New Democrats are committed to removing the PST from construction labour to put an extra $200 million into the economy every year, drive investment, and create jobs. This will not just help our struggling construction sector, it will also help the business that provide meals, lodging, and supplies at construction projects.

Saskatchewan Party:

A re-elected Saskatchewan Party government will introduce a three-year reduction to the small business tax rate, as part of the Saskatchewan Party’s plan to support Saskatchewan’s economic recovery from COVID.

To support Saskatchewan small businesses as they sustain operations, retain and hire new employees and grow their businesses, a Saskatchewan Party government will:

  • Reduce the small business tax rate from two percent to zero, beginning October 1, 2020.
  • Move the small business tax rate to one percent beginning July 1st, 2022.
  • Move the small business tax rate back to its current two percent, beginning July 1st 2023.
  • The amount which small business can earn at the small business tax rate will remain at $600,000 – the highest in Canada.
Will you introduce a plan to reduce Saskatchewan’s small business corporate income tax rate from 2% to 0% on the first $600,000 of annual business income?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

Yes.

Saskatchewan Green Party

Again, a Sask Green Party government would have to assess how badly the previous government has mismanaged our provincial finances first. However, our Green Party government certainly is open to this suggestion to help small businesses thrive in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

This is not a tax measure that we are currently considering.

Saskatchewan Party:

The Saskatchewan Party has committed to reducing Saskatchewan’s small business tax rate to 0% beginning October 1, 2020.

Do you support giving municipalities new taxation powers (e.g. local fuel, income or sales taxes)?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

Yes.

Saskatchewan Green Party

This is an interesting idea. The Sask Green Party has advocated for Participatory Budgets. This idea could be presented as part of those discussions if we were blessed with forming government after October 26th.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

These are not measures that we are currently considering.

Saskatchewan Party:

The Saskatchewan Party is not currently considering any expansion of taxation powers for municipalities. 

This budget provides a record $278 million in Municipal Revenue Sharing—up nearly $27 million from last year, or 11 percent.

Will you oppose any federal government measures to continue increasing Canada Pension Plan (CPP) premiums, Employment Insurance premiums and carbon tax rates over the next four years?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

Payroll taxes ultimately hurt small business so yes we oppose these increases.

Saskatchewan Green Party

Our Sask Green Party government would want to be less reactionary and overtly hostile to the federal government. While maintaining respectful relations, our government would also stand up for our great province by suggesting ways we can work in collaboration in bettering the lives of all citizens across Canada and especially in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

CPP and EI premiums are help pay for retirement and unemployment benefits that thousands of Saskatchewan people rely on. Saskatchewan’s New Democrats believe that the current premiums are sufficient and are not in need of increases at this time but will always support measures that are needed to ensure these programs remain sustainable for future generations. Saskatchewan’s New Democrats are not supportive of the federal government’s carbon price and would not be supportive of measures to increase it.

Saskatchewan Party:

The CPP is jointly controlled by the federal and provincial governments. Legislation requires the federal and provincial finance Ministers, as joint stewards of the CPP, to review the Plan’s financial status every three years. Any legislative changes to the CPP require the agreement of the federal government and the governments of two-thirds of the provinces having two-thirds of the population of all the provinces.

Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party government have consistently opposed a federal carbon tax.

Spend sustainably:

What is your plan to balance the budget and when will this happen?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

The government's high spending is problematic. Its difficult to say whether we can be balanced given the systemic spending problem this government has created. It is our hope the economic measures we have instituted will result in actively which will increase revenue. Our biggest impediment to growth quite frankly is the looming threat of another lockdown and the continued covid state of emergency. Until we are out of that shadow economy recovery is going to be difficult.

Saskatchewan Green Party:

Excellent question! The Sask Green Party was the only political party in 2016 to raise the alarm bells on how the current provincial government was overspending and ignoring its own legislation forbidding deficit budgets (unless in times of extraordinary circumstances). After the 2016 election, the SaskParty government removed its own anti-deficit legislation and continued borrowing more and more money. In affect, burdening our province and its citizens with over $23 billion in DEBT. This is more than what happened under the Grant Devine government. So yes, our Sask Green Party government will balance the budget. How soon depends on cleaning up the mess from the current provincial government.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

Rushing to balance through tax increases and cuts to health care and education are the wrong approach. Saskatchewan’s New Democrats will make needed investments in people now to help drive our recovery and look to return to balance in the second term of a New Democratic government.

Saskatchewan Party:

The Saskatchewan Party has a plan for a balanced budget by 2024. Balance will be achieved through a strong economic recovery and a growing economy, without tax increases or reductions in programs and services.

The NDP does not have a plan to balance the budget.

Will you commit to limit annual spending increases to rate of GDP growth?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

Yes

Saskatchewan Green Party:

Again, our Sask Green Party government will do everything possible to support small businesses and our citizens through this difficult period and beyond. We will need to assess how bad our provincial finances are before we can commit to any specific spending limits or increases.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

No. Now is not the time for austerity, now is the time to make investments in healthcare and education to ensure that people have the supports they need.

Saskatchewan Party:

These are unprecedented times with all provincial economies being negatively impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn. As a result, Saskatchewan will have a deficit for the 2020-21 year. This is not a structural deficit and debt remains manageable. Saskatchewan’s 2020-21 First Quarter Budget Update and Medium-Term Outlook shows an improving economy, a smaller deficit and a return to surplus in 2024-25. We acknowledge Saskatchewan’s net debt-to-GDP ratio will remain as one of the lowest in the country throughout the forecast period.

Sustained improvement in the deficit is forecast in each of the next 3 years, with a $125 million surplus forecast in 2024-25. A strong rebound in the economy is expected to drive revenue growth, and expense growth at 1.5 per cent over the medium term, requiring careful management of spending.

Strategic investments:

What is your plan to improve access to high speed internet across Saskatchewan?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

We would partner Sasktel with another internet provider to expedite the internet infrastructure to our rural residents. Its our belief the infrastructure deficit is too great for Sasktel alone to facilitate without putting the crown at risk.

Saskatchewan Green Party:

Immediately upon forming government after October 26th, our Premier Naomi Hunter would contact Elon Musk (Tesla Industries) and ask for his help in testing his ideas of getting high speed Internet across all of Saskatchewan using his array of satellites. Together with our Crown Corporation titan SaskTel, our Sask Green Party government would finally assure equalized internet service for all of Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

Access to high speed and broadband service is essential in 2020. Far too many rural residents and small business owners have been left without reliable access they need. Saskatchewan’s New Democrats are committed to a Rural Reconnect program to expand SaskTel’s network of cellular and broadband infrastructure to make sure everyone in Saskatchewan has access to quality service.

Saskatchewan Party:

A SaskParty government is committed to the continued expansion of reliable connectivity across Saskatchewan. Currently, SaskTel covers 99% of the population of  Saskatchewan with Internet services including DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), Fibre, Fusion, and wireless technologies. DSL is currently available in 459 communities throughout the province. There are technological limitations that limit the distance of DSL internet to four kilometres from the nearest distribution point. SaskTel’s Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) program upgraded the broadband network in the residential areas of Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Weyburn, Estevan, Swift Current, Yorkton, and North Battleford. FTTP was expanded in 2020 and will be deployed in the communities of Humboldt, Melfort, Melville, Nipawin, and Tisdale.

In the last three years over $100 million has been invested in rural connectivity through the SaskParty government’s wireless Saskatchewan initiative. Since 2017, Sasktel has constructed over 34 new High Speed Fusion Internet network towers, constructed small cell sites in 105 locations, finished 14 of the 15 macro cell towers and recently announced an additional 74 new macro tower sites with an anticipated completion date of summer 2021. Sasktel recently established a working group with SARM to examine different ways of increasing rural connectivity.

Sasktel will invest $73.0 million in their Fibre to the Premise and Fibre to the Business programs this fiscal year. $50.0 million will be invested in Fibre to the Premises Program (FTTP) in the nine major cities with 100% homes passed by the end of 2022/23. A fruther $12.0 million for the Fibre to the Premises Program (FTTP) outside of the nine majors with 100% of the homes having in Emerald Park, Humboldt, Martensville, Melfort, Melville, Nipawin, Tisdale, Warman, and White City having access by the end of the 2021/22 fiscal year. Fibre to the Business will see an $11 million increase this year with a goal of having 1,300 businesses having access and 1,200 connected to Sasktel's fastest broadband service.

Will you increase annual spending on crime prevention across the province?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

Yes. We are in favor of our own provincial police force to better control our policing needs. We have a plan to create local sheriff deputies in more remote communities to act as part of the first responder teams to assess and organize any police response to local issues in the immediate absence of the police force.

Saskatchewan Green Party:

The Sask Green Party has a newer and proven model of crime prevention: Guaranteed Livable Income

By eliminating poverty and creating thousands of jobs through a Green Economic Recovery, our Sask Green Party government would be able to lower crime rates dramatically. Our Sask Green Party government would also look to ensure effective spending on crime prevention and more importantly work collectively with all Saskatchewan communities to ensure better safety and the well being of all of our citizens.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

Yes, I will increase spending on the things that are proven to actually reduce crime: an
antipoverty strategy, better housing for vulnerable people, and doubled supports for the
province-wide anti-gang strategy. Rates of crime in Saskatchewan are far too high today, and we need to start taking evidence-based steps to reduce the underlying issues that drive crime in our communities.

Saskatchewan Party:

The Saskatchewan Party government has increased funding to the RCMP for provincial policing services by $40.7 million since 2011. This has allowed the RCMP to add an additional 215.5 officers responsible for provincial policing. With the investment the Saskatchewan Party government has made in the Protection and Response Team, there are over 300 more uniformed officers able to address public safety concerns along our highways.

Since 2007, the Saskatchewan Party government has invested over $165 million to fund 129 frontline municipal police positions. Important, specialized units which include:

  • Enhanced Community Policing
  • Missing Persons
  • Internet Child Exploitation units
  • Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan
  • Integrated Crime Reduction Teams, formerly called the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Units

The Saskatchewan Party government has also introduced a number of initiatives to reduce crime and increase public safety:

  • Police and Crisis Teams (PACT);
  • Investment of $5.9 million annually to fund Protection and Response Team (PRT);
  • Investment of $5.57 million annually to the RCMP for the Crime Reduction Teams (CRT).

Reduce red tape for small businesses:

What is your plan to reduce red tape for small businesses?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

No response provided.

Saskatchewan Green Party:

No response provided.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

My door will always be open to small businesses who have concerns about duplicated or
redundant forms, policies, or requirements. Saskatchewan’s New Democrats are interested in working with small businesses to find improvements and eliminate wasteful processes.
However, protections that are in place to protect workers, safety, and the environment will not be compromised under a New Democratic government.

Saskatchewan Party:

The Saskatchewan Party believes in cutting red tape as much as possible. We established a red tape committee that reviews and examines all legislation and regulations in government, and we will continue to do so to make sure that reduce red tape across all sectors wherever possible. Please continue to bring forward areas of red tape that concern you. 

The Saskatchewan Party government received an A grade for red tape reduction from CFIB in 2019 and 2020. CFIB also noted that Saskatchewan has publicly reported over $450 million in cumulative, forecasted red tape savings over the next 10 years, far exceeding the province’s initial targeted objective of at least $5 million annually.

Employment & training:

What is your plan to better prepare graduates to meet the needs of small businesses?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

The educational curriculum (secondary) is inadequate to educate students properly of matters of finance and money management. It's our position that this is the root of the issues in terms of our future workers understanding small business and the place of the worker in the workplace.

Post secondary skills training must meet the emerging needs of business better. Our programs must keep pace with technological needs.

Saskatchewan Green Party:

Our Sask Green Party government would work collaboratively with small businesses to design coop programs that give students free work training and future job opportunities upon graduation.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

Saskatchewan’s New Democrats know that the best thing the provincial government can do to prepare graduates for the workplace is to ensure that students have safe schools, smaller classes, and additional supports when they are struggling. That is why our party has committed to increasing funding for education staffing by $125 million to allow school divisions to hire 1,000 teachers, 750 educational assistants, and 400 caretakers. By reducing class size and getting students the extra help they need, new graduates will be better prepared to succeed at whatever they take on after graduating. We are also committed to removing interest on student loans and restoring funding that was cut by the Sask. Party to NORTEP.

Saskatchewan Party:

A Saskatchewan Party government will continue to fund the Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant which provides up to $10,000 to train employees, up to $100,000 per employer. Funding is provided 1/3 by the province, 1/3 by the Government of Canada and 1/3 by the employer.

All Saskatchewan school divisions now have the opportunity to offer financial literacy courses to their students. Financial Literacy 20 and 30 addresses financial topics and decisions that students may already be facing, while highlighting others they are likely to face within the first few years of leaving high school.

Will you commit to not increase Saskatchewan’s minimum wage to $15.00 per hour?

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

This proposal is a business killer so yes we will commit to that.

Saskatchewan Green Party:

Having the lowest minimum wage in Canada does little to stimulate the Saskatchewan economy. By moving up our minimum wage to a livable amount, this would not only ensure the worker is able to survive, the small businesses will also prosper due to more spending power from every citizen. This also can happen by implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

No. An NDP government will introduce a $15/hour minimum wage by the end of our first term. We are also committed to introducing a rebate for small businesses with less than $200,000 in taxable income in the retail; accommodation and food services; and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors to help manage the transition to a $15/hour minimum.

Saskatchewan Party:

Both political parties and stakeholders supported indexing the minimum wage. We use a formula because it is sustainable, predictable and depoliticizes the process.

What is your plan to help the province’s low-income earners? (e.g. introduce an income tax credit for low-income earners such as no PIT paid under $25,000 on a graduated basis)

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan:

The best means to assist low income earners is to offer initiatives for them to upgrade their skills to qualify for better jobs. This would be in combination with the tax incentives to encourage more economic activity. The best means to increase the wage levels is to increase competition.

Ultimately I would be in favour of a flat tax excluding low income workers. However until the provinces finances are in order this may be well in the future.

Saskatchewan Green Party:

Our Green Party government would not only look at this option but more importantly we would implement a Guaranteed Livable Income so that the basic needs of every Saskatchewan citizen is looked after. This would also create a more sustainable economy that can better withstand economic and social shocks that occasionally happen. A more resilient and thriving Saskatchewan is what the Sask Green Party is aiming to build.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party:

Improving the quality of life for low income people in our province is a top priority for
Saskatchewan’s New Democrats. We are committed to introducing an anti-poverty strategy, a housing first plan, a $15/hour minimum wage, and eliminating predatory lending through a cap on interest rates and a cap on cheque cashing fees.

Saskatchewan Party:

A re-elected Saskatchewan Party government will introduce a one-year, 10 per cent rebate on electricity charges on power bills for all SaskPower customers. The rebate applies to everyone – residential customers, farm customers, businesses and institutions like hospitals, schools and universities, meaning everyone benefits.

If re-elected, the Saskatchewan Party government will make it more affordable for low to moderate income families to enroll their children and youth under the age of 18 in sports, recreation and cultural activities by restarting the Active Families Benefit.

A re-elected Saskatchewan Party government will increase the Seniors Income Plan from a maximum of $270 per month to a maximum of $360 per month.

When the increase is fully implemented the Saskatchewan Party government will have
quadrupled the benefit for low income seniors over 16 years in government – a sharp contrast from the previous NDP government which did not increase the benefit at all for 16 years.

Under the Saskatchewan Party, personal and business taxes continue to be among the lowest in the country, giving Saskatchewan an advantage to attract new business investment, create jobs and keep the cost of living affordable. A re-elected Saskatchewan Party government will continue to monitor our tax competitiveness during our economic recovery.

The Saskatchewan Party government removed 112,000 low-income people off of the provincial income tax rolls. Personal, spousal and child exemption amounts have increased twice in the last decade and a family of four in Saskatchewan pays no income tax on their first $51,675 of income – making this one of the highest tax-free thresholds in Canada. Not only that, in every personal income tax bracket, Saskatchewan families are paying less personal income tax now than they did a decade ago.

Under a re-elected Saskatchewan Party government, there will be no tax increases. This is in sharp contrast to the Saskatchewan NDP who hiked taxes during their time in government and will not rule out further tax increases if they are successful in this election.

The Saskatchewan Party government increased the Saskatchewan Low-Income Tax Credit (SLITC) to help offset the cost of the PST. Families earning less than $32,634 receive the maximum benefit of $964 per year. The maximum benefit for adults increased from $246 to $346 per year and the child component increased from $96 to $136 per year.