(19 February 2015)
Investments in infrastructure, debt retirement, and tax relief
As we continue to make Budget preparations we remain focused on keeping Saskatchewan strong. Lately the Opposition has begun to pose the question “Where has the money gone?” Minister Krawetz has answered this question succinctly with an open letter. Our government has made key investments in infrastructure, paid down provincial debt to free up more spending, and provided the most tax relief to Saskatchewan people in provincial history. The Minister’s Letter in its entirety is below:
In recent weeks, NDP Leader Cam Broten has been asking our government – where did the money go? The answer is really quite clear. It went to debt reduction, to tax reduction and to much-needed investment in government infrastructure and services.
First of all, debt reduction. Since taking office in 2007, our government has reduced the province’s operating debt by $3 billion or 44 per cent, from $6.8 billion to $3.8 billion. That debt reduction is saving Saskatchewan taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in interest costs. So far, we have saved nearly a billion dollars in total – money that was re-invested in infrastructure and government services and money that went back into the pockets of Saskatchewan taxpayers in the form of tax cuts.
When the NDP was in power, Saskatchewan people were taxed far too much. That’s why our government has delivered the largest income tax reductions and the largest property tax reductions in Saskatchewan history.
Here’s one example. Under the NDP, a family of four earning $50,000 a year paid $2,302 in provincial income tax. Today, that same family pays just $95 a year in provincial income tax – a tax reduction of 95 per cent. On top of that, our government lowered the education property tax on their home, took the PST off the purchase of their used car and extended the PST exemption on their children’s clothing to age 18, saving them hundreds more dollars over the past few years.
Tax reductions are saving Saskatchewan residents hundreds of millions of dollars a year compared to when the NDP was in office. In total since 2007, our government has delivered over $5 billion in tax relief.
Our government has also invested billions of dollars to address the massive infrastructure deficit left behind by the NDP. We know there is more to be done, but in our first seven years in office, we have invested $6.6 billion in important capital projects like hospitals, schools and highways. That’s more than double what the NDP spent on infrastructure in their last seven years in power. We believe in planning for growth. The NDP was planning for decline.
In fact, you can see this investment all around the province. There are 40 new schools completed or in development across Saskatchewan, including nine joint-use schools to address increased enrolments and aging facilities. We have also made record investments in health care capital - over $1 billion since 2007 – to build 15 long-term care facilities, replace the Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford and build a new hospital in Moose Jaw, and the new Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.
We have also repaired and rebuilt over 8,500 kilometres of Saskatchewan highways, while still understanding there are more to be fixed because of the disastrous condition of Saskatchewan highways left behind by the NDP.
So that’s where the money has gone – into important investments in Saskatchewan’s future. Debt reduction. Tax reduction. Infrastructure projects. It’s a fair question, but we have a clear answer. And it’s a lot better than the question many of us were asking when the NDP were in office: where did the people go?
Record Setting Wholesale Trade Numbers Lead the Nation
December 2014 saw the province set a new record for wholesale trade, reaching $2.4 billion. This is up from $1.9 billion from the previous year, an increase of over 25%. The jump put Saskatchewan at the front of the pack in Canada for year-over-year increases in wholesale trade.
December marked the fifth straight month for provincial increases in wholesale trade, showing again that the world wants what Saskatchewan has, and our diverse economy can meet the challenge.
Honouring Fallen Heroes
Our province’s GeoMemorial Commemorative Naming Program has added eight more fallen heroes. This program designates provincial landmarks and names them for the men and women who have died in the course of their duties serving our province and country, enriching and strengthening both.
The program honours individuals who were born or raised in Saskatchewan.
The province’s newest official place names are located in Northern Saskatchewan:
- Anderson Lake – Named after Corporal Jordan Anderson (Iqaluit, Nunavut), who served with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Corporal Anderson was killed on July 4, 2007, by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
- Blair Lake – Named after Private Alfred Edward Wesley Blair (Chaplin, Saskatchewan), who was part of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion when he parachuted into France during World War II, and was subsequently killed in action on June 9, 1944.
- Goddard Lake – Named after Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard (Madang, Papua New Guinea), who was serving with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry as a forward observation officer when she was killed in a firefight in Panjwai District, Afghanistan on May 17, 2006.
- Greff Lake – Named after Master Corporal Byron Greff (Swift Current, Saskatchewan), who served with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Master Corporal Greff was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 29, 2011 when the armoured bus he was in was rammed by a car packed with explosives. Master Corporal Greff was part of the mission to train the Afghan National Army.
- Lake MacKenzie – Named after Capain Juli-Ann Dawn MacKenzie (Weyburn, Saskatchewan), who, while serving with the Canadian Air Force, was killed with her co-pilot on July 18, 2002, when her helicopter crashed during severe weather while on a search and rescue mission in Labrador.
- Lang Bay – Named after journalist Michelle Lang (Vancouver, British Columbia), who worked in Moose Jaw and later for the Regina Leader-Post. While embedded as a journalist with the Canadian military in Afghanistan, Lang was killed when the armoured vehicle she was riding in hit a roadside bomb on December 30, 2009.
- Pineo Point – Named after Constable Derek William Henry Pineo (Halifax, Nova Scotia), who served with the Nipawin and Wilke Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachments. Constable Pineo was killed on duty when his vehicle hit a moose on July 20, 2012.
- Willows Lake – Named after Corporal Willmit Alfred Willows (Maple Creek, Saskatchewan), who served with the Calgary Highlanders during World War II. Corporal Willows was wounded by bombing that occurred during the push to take Falaise in France. He died three days later on July 26, 1944.
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