Regina, February 20, 2018 - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is responding to City of Regina Mayor Michael Fougere's desire to begin discussions with the Government of Saskatchewan on new taxation powers for municipalities. A CFIB survey found 79 per cent of small business owners are opposed to Saskatchewan municipalities having additional power to introduce new taxes.
Last week, Mayor Fougere met with Government Relations Minister Warren Kaeding to get the ball rolling on discussing new revenue sources for the province’s municipalities. The Mayor confirmed discussions through the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and the City Mayors’ Caucus include the whole issue of new sources of revenue for municipalities. Currently, The Cities Act outlines which taxes municipalities can - or cannot - collect. Cities are allowed to collect property taxes, but are restricted over what else they can tax (such as their ability to implement an "amusement tax" on sports and entertainment).
When asked whether municipalities should have authority to levy new taxes (e.g. fuel, income or sales taxes) a strong majority (79%) of Saskatchewan business owners disagreed; only 15% agreed. "It is important for everyone involved to remember that while we have three levels of government, there is only one level of taxpayer,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie and Agri-business.
“While we recognize the fiscal pressures Saskatchewan municipalities face, we fear giving them new taxation powers would put them on a collision course with their local small business community that are already struggling in a slower economy,” added Braun-Pollon. “Given the number of challenges facing Saskatchewan businesses, the worst thing the provincial government could do is provide municipalities the authority to levy new taxes, which would further jeopardize our overall competitiveness.”
We are pleased Premier Scott Moe does not support increased taxation powers to municipalities. In response to CFIB's 2017 Leadership Candidates' survey, the Premier said: "Our government committed to deliver municipalities one percentage point of the PST revenue for the past 10 years. My team will not allow increased taxation powers for municipalities, but we will need to rework revenue sharing with municipalities to ensure they are spending their money efficiently and effectively. That means working together on procurement, shared services, and partnerships among municipalities."
Rather than asking the provincial government for new sources of revenue, CFIB believes municipalities need to further contain their operating costs to find additional cost-savings by:
- continuing to review programs/services that can be streamlined, eliminated, contracted out to the private sector, or sold;
- introducing a plan to reduce the size/cost of the municipal civil service (primarily through attrition);
- developing a long-term strategy to narrow the compensation disparity between public and private sector employees; and
- if applicable, eliminating the costly and outdated municipal banked sick day policies and replace with affordable short-term disability plan.
“Business owners work hard to live within their means and expect their municipalities to do the same, without looking for additional sources of taxation,” concluded Braun-Pollon.
To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business, please call (306) 757-0000, 888 234-2232 or email [email protected]. You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region. Learn more at cfib.ca