April 12, 2018
This year's provincial budget can be summed up as lacklustre. Long-term planning continues to be the weakest feature of Saskparty-derived budgets.
There are some improvements, but Vision is not in the Moe lexicon.
The government congratulates itself on some movement away from natural resource revenue. Good, but where is the real, meaningful investment in renewable energy development? Where is the incentive for green business -- as green entrepreneurs languish in a system stacked against them? We will still be depending on natural resource revenue to the tune of $1 billion going forward, with rising debt. But if we were to take a green-focused approach to our economy, we could both save money and generate new sources of revenue and jobs.
The government still targets people with lower incomes to balance their books. This includes phasing out a program to help low-income families and people with disabilities to pay their rent. Rather than ending poverty with a step- by -step strategy, a Housing First initiative and improved income - security programs, this short-sighted government adheres to the false, old nostrum "The poor we will always have with us." Here it fails to represent the heart and intelligence of Saskatchewan's people. But it also fails in dollars-and-cents terms. Poverty costs the province over $3 billion dollars yearly. This is yet another budget missing the chance to grow our province's economic future by raising up people's ability to engage in the economy.
The scarce good points in the budget should not be ignored. For instance, HIV meds will be covered 100%; kids with autism will be eligible for $4000 in government funds each year, and $11.4 million is earmarked for mental health initiatives. These improvements will definitely help. However, they should have been part of an ongoing, comprehensive healthcare strategy geared to address healthcare's steadily rising costs.
This is not the worst budget in the province's history, but it is far from the best. Because it is less harsh than the previous one, the government counts on our getting lulled into acceptance of the status quo. They want us to forget that we deserve better. The budget simply lacks any vision for long-term sustainable prosperity for Saskatchewan, and this will be the message of a small footnote it will occupy in history. We're still stuck in neutral, even as other provinces are making their moves to improve their future.
Saskatchewan Green Party