While there have been many people talking about the positives in the provincial budget that was released on Wednesday, particularly what was included for Weyburn and area, some are looking at what the budget didn’t include. 

Trent Wotherspoon is the Finance critic for the NDP. He noted the positives such as the new hospital in Weyburn, and the money for the courthouse to re-open the Court of King’s Bench, and also noted what he felt was missing.  

“It’s fair to say that it’s awfully out of touch with the reality that people, families and businesses are facing right now that it really fails to meet the moment,” Wotherspoon told Discover Weyburn. “Here you have a government that’s just flush with cash, soaring resource revenues, but that is not addressing at all the reality for families and businesses, and that's this incredible cost of living challenges that they’re facing.” 

Some of those challenges, as pointed out by Wotherspoon, included the tax increases imposed in recent years, such as charging PST on construction projects, new fees and hikes by SaskPower and SaskEnergy.  

The PST being charged on construction labour is something that Wotherspoon has been calling to be removed since it was first imposed in 2017.  

“It really is the epitome of a job-killing tax,” Wotherspoon said. “It’s been a gut punch to growth. It’s cancelled projects by driving up costs; driven away jobs and employment out of Saskatchewan and hurt our investment environment.” 

Wotherspoon noted that communities like Weyburn also have to pay the PST on construction labour for infrastructure projects, which is money that is paid by the City of Weyburn that has to come from revenues collected at the municipal level through things such as property taxes assessed to homeowners and businesses. 

The carbon tax was also mentioned in the budget, and how it was mentioned didn’t quite sit right with Wotherspoon. SaskPower is now under the province’s Output-Based Performance Standards for the carbon tax, which is administered at the provincial level. When a large emitter goes over a set amount of emissions, they pay a levy based on the excess emissions under the OBPS program.  

The budget stated Saskatchewan residents will save $3.7 billion in federal carbon taxes between now and 2030, but doesn’t state that Saskatchewan residents will still be paying the carbon tax on their SaskPower bill.  

“It’s going to be provincially administered and collected, but we don’t see any relief for Saskatchewan people on this front,” Wotherspoon said. “We certainly have expressed our serious concerns with the carbon tax and how it related to trade-exposed industries, how it relates to agriculture where it brings costs on agricultural producers across the province, but doesn’t provide the kind of offset and rebate or recognition that they need and deserve for their work in sequestering carbon.” 

Wotherspoon also had one final critique of the budget. 

“It really falls short for kids and classrooms that have suffered the biggest cut to per-student funding in the nation over the last decade and that are really in classrooms without the supports they need and deserve,” Wotherspoon added. “We need better support for our teachers and educational assistants in those classrooms as well.” 

Here in the southeast, the South East Cornerstone Public School Division will be seeing an increase in funding from the provincial budget of 0.2 percent, while expenses are expected to go up by close to six percent due to inflation.