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Skyrocketing costs hurting Saskatchewan small businesses, government must provide cost relief

One in six Saskatchewan small businesses are considering closure; 80% struggling with government-imposed costs: CFIB survey

Regina, July 18, 2022 - SaskEnergy’s recent proposal to hike natural gas rates for the small commercial sector by nearly 20% with only three weeks’ notice comes as yet another blow for small businesses – many of which haven’t yet recovered from the pandemic, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

“The SaskEnergy rate hike is just the latest in a long list of new or increased government-imposed costs being piled on small businesses,” said Brianna Solberg, CFIB senior policy analyst. “SaskPower has also increased electricity rates, Workers Compensation Board premiums are going up, and as of July 1, small businesses are once again paying corporate income tax,” she said. “In fact, over 80 per cent of Saskatchewan small business owners say that rising government-imposed costs are creating difficulties for their business.”

Inflation is squeezing everyone, including small business owners. “Increasing costs for food, fuel, insurance, and commercial rent means small businesses have seen nearly every line item of their budgets go up,” said Solberg. “Many businesses took on significant debt during the pandemic and are now feeling the impacts of rising interest rates. Add supply chain challenges, labour shortages – and the fact that only half of Saskatchewan small businesses are back to normal, pre-pandemic revenues - it’s no wonder that one in six (17%) Saskatchewan small business owners are considering calling it quits,” she added, citing data from a recent CFIB survey.

The latest hit for small businesses comes from SaskEnergy, which has proposed increasing small commercial energy rates by almost 20 per cent in 2022. For the average small business owner that means an extra $51.85 on their monthly bill. SaskEnergy also plans further increases in 2023 and 2024, adding a total of nearly $800 to small businesses' annual energy costs. Making matters worse, the 2022 increase will come into effect on August 1, providing small business owners with almost no notice.

CFIB is urging the Saskatchewan government to stop piling new costs on small businesses and relieve cost pressure by:

  • Temporarily suspending the provincial fuel tax;
  • Suspending collection of small business corporate income taxes until more small businesses have had a chance to recover;
  • Halting plans to expand the PST in October, as this move will hurt many of the businesses most seriously impacted by pandemic restrictions;
  • Providing cost relief (for example, rebates) for small businesses now facing significant SaskPower and SaskEnergy rate hikes; and
  • Implementing strategies to address labour shortages, which are a major constraint on business productivity and growth.

“Cost relief is becoming urgent for Saskatchewan small businesses,” said Kathleen Cook, CFIB’s provincial affairs director. “Instead of piling on new costs that make it harder for small businesses to recover and grow, the Saskatchewan government should be providing some cost relief.”

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Kathleen Cook, Provincial Affairs Director
431-388-2395
Kathleen.cook@cfib.ca

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region, including 4,300 in Saskatchewan. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca