Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

SASKATCHEWAN’S AUSTERITY BUDGET: OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR

Posted by strattof on April 14, 2017

We are told that our province’s dire financial situation—a $1.2 billion deficit—means that we all have to tighten our belts. There do, however, seem to be some exceptions:

  • The corporate tax rate: reduced by 1 point, from 12% to 11%, making it the lowest in the country.
  • Personal income tax rates: reduced by 1%.

Such corporate and personal income tax breaks will have two main effects:

  1. Further shift the tax burden from businesses to individuals.
  2. Make the tax system less progressive and more regressive: One of the purposes of taxes is to redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less. These tax changes do the opposite.

To make matters worse, the Wall government has raised the PST by 1 point, from 5% to 6%, and extended it to include children’s clothing. Consumption taxes, like the PST, are a greater burden for poor people than for those with higher incomes.

Now Brad Wall is offering our tax dollars to lure Calgary-based oil companies to relocate to Saskatchewan. Turns out Wall and his wife own shares in three of these companies.

OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR

 CUTS TO SOCIAL PROGRAMS

SAID (Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities) is “an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities.” In August 2016, the Wall government announced that SAID recipients would lose the Excess Shelter Allowance, a cut made in the name of “equity and fairness.”

There was such a public outcry the government reversed the cut for those currently on the SAID program. However, it still applies

  • To all new applicants.
  • To anyone who changes address.

Even with the Excess Shelter Allowance, the maximum amount a SAID recipient can receive in rental support is $715. Not much housing is available in Regina for $715 a month. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $926.

PRIVATIZATION OF SERVICES

CLEANING SERVICES

The 251 cleaners of government buildings in Saskatchewan used to earn $19.20 an hour, or about $40,000 a year. Despite being the lowest paid government workers, they at least made a living wage.

Now that the Wall government has privatized cleaning services, these same cleaners are likely to make the minimum wage: $10.72 an hour. This is not a living wage.

PRISON FOOD

The Wall government also privatized prison food services, contracting out meal preparation to Compass Group, a for-profit, multi-national corporation. Now meals for Saskatchewan’s prison population are prepared in Alberta and trucked in frozen.

Since food privatization took effect, prisoners at Regina’s Correctional Centre have gone on four hunger strikes, citing concerns about food quality and quantity. Also 62 unionized workers lost their jobs.

ELIMINATING STC

The Wall government is eliminating the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), a Crown Corporation. Many people use STC, but its loss will affect different groups differently:

  • 70% of STC riders are low-income.
  • Many First Nations use STC. In BC, the absence of a rural bus service resulted in the Highway of Tears.
  • 300 rural cancer patients use STC to get to their appointments.
  • Many newly-released prisoners rely on STC to return to their communities.

STOP THE ELIMINATION OF STC

  • Sign petitions calling for plans to eliminate STC to be stopped:

https://www.facebook.com/stopthecutsSK/

http://www.saskndp.ca/stc 

LIBRARY CUTS

The Wall government has cut all funding for public libraries in Regina and Saskatoon and more than half of the funding for regional libraries. Like STC, the loss of library services will affect different people differently. For example:

  • You are an avid reader, but can’t afford to buy books.
  • You are looking for a job and don’t have access to a computer.
  • You are a high school student and need a quiet place to study.
  • You are a new-comer to Canada and want help with English.
  • You are homeless and need to get out of the cold until the shelter where you sleep reopens.

STOP THE CUTS TO OUR LIBRARIES

Sign petitions calling for funding to be restored to our libraries:

 

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