This morning, the Government of Saskatchewan announced a four-point affordability plan that they say will help people address the rising cost of living.
"Higher global commodity prices are driving growth in Saskatchewan's economy, creating jobs and improving our budget position," Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said, "However, higher commodity prices are also driving up the cost of almost everything you buy."
"Saskatchewan people own the resources. Saskatchewan people should benefit when resource prices are high. That's why we're going to use higher resource revenues to help address rising costs and to retire up to $1 billion of the province's debt."
The first point of the plan is the Saskatchewan Affordability Tax Credit payment, a cheque of $500 to Saskatchewan residents who are 18 years of age or older as of December 31, 2022, and who have filed a 2021 tax return as a resident of Saskatchewan.
This was announced by Premier Scott Moe Monday afternoon, citing the increased surplus the province received from higher resource prices.
Saskatchewan residents who have not filed a 2021 tax return are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. The Government is estimating the cost of the tax credit is $450 million, with an estimated up to 900,000 cheques to be mailed.
The plan will also be removing portions of old policies, as fitness and gym memberships and some recreational activities from the previously planned October PST expansion will no longer come into effect.
PST will not be charged to residents under 18 years of age participating in recreational activities including golf, curling, hockey, tennis, basketball, and similar formal sporting activities where the individual participates in a league or service where a round, game, or match are completed. These activities will be taxable for individuals 18 years of age and older.
PST will not be applied to fitness classes as well as personal training and other fitness activities offered through municipal recreational facilities. PST will not be applied to arts, cultural, and sports programming and league membership fees like gymnastics fees, art classes, or acting classes, among others.
Businesses that qualify as small suppliers for GST purposes will be exempt from collecting PST.
PST will be applied to ticket admissions to sporting events, concerts, trade shows, fairs, rodeos, movie theatres, professional water parks, and entertainment admissions like escape rooms, batting cages, and arcades.
This change is being estimated by the government to reduce PST revenue this year by $3 million.
They will also be extending the small business tax rate reduction, at 0 per cent retroactive to July 1, 2022, and delaying the restoration of the rate to 2 per cent to July 1, 2024.
The government says it will save small businesses $93.1 million over the next three years, on average $3,000 for each small business.
$1 billion in operating debt will also be foreclosed.
Debt is now forecast to be $1.7 billion lower by fiscal year-end than projected at budget as the province's projected surplus provides the ability to retire up to $1 billion in debt, and the province no longer needs to borrow for operations due to the improved financial position.
That Debt retirement and lower borrowing results in lower financing charges due to an estimated $49 million decrease in interest costs.
"Helping Saskatchewan people through a time of higher costs, as well as taking the prudent measure of retiring debt, strikes the right balance and helps our province move forward," Harpauer said. "That's growth that works for everyone."