Saskatchewan. The NDP proposes a 1% increase in royalties; Moe ponders raising the minimum wage

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Finance spokesman Trent Wotherspoon said the province and businesses are seeing a windfall due to rising commodity prices.

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After learning that the NDP wanted the province to increase resource surtaxes by 1% to provide each resident with a $105 check, Premier Scott Moe said his government is now considering a minimum wage increase.

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Moe told reporters Monday that a review was underway to look at an adjustment to the formula that dictates the minimum wage in Saskatchewan, adding that he expects possible changes to be “substantial.” The minimum wage is currently $11.81 per hour, the lowest of all provinces and territories.

He acknowledged that inflationary pressures have made it more difficult to buy basic goods in the province, but did not specify what the hourly rate would be.

“We are looking at what we can do as a government to support Saskatchewan families,” he said. “This is an area, with proper consultation, where we are able to make a one-time, or maybe even a few times, market-based adjustment to raise the minimum wage.”

The province’s change in direction on the minimum wage came as the opposition NDP proposed a 1% increase in resource royalties.

Financial critic Trent Wotherspoon told reporters on Monday that the proposed 1% resource revenue surcharge would only apply when WTI oil prices exceed US$90 a barrel and when potash prices exceed $700 a barrel. ton K20.

The surcharge would not apply if commodity prices fell below these figures.

He said the province and businesses are already seeing a windfall at a time when people across the province are looking for relief.

“When they are at a bargain, we believe the owners of these resources deserve a fair and better return and some relief,” he said. “The project is simple. We are prepared to work with the government to make this happen.

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The NDP predicts this would increase government revenue by $250 million.

Wotherspoon said $125 million could be sent as reimbursement checks to each resident, meaning each person would receive $105.

The remaining $125 million could be spent on eliminating additional PST for gyms and venueshealth care and a program to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

Wotherspoon said the NDP calculated the $250 million figure by multiplying the volume of oil and potash by their market prices once they reached their thresholds.

WTI crude is currently around $105 per barrel and potash is currently around $720 per K20 ton.

Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon speaks during an announcement at the Saskatchewan Legislature regarding a proposed resource revenue distribution program that aims to provide some affordability relief to residents.
Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon speaks during an announcement at the Saskatchewan Legislature regarding a proposed resource revenue distribution program that aims to provide some affordability relief to residents. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Chief’s Post

Moe rejected the proposal, saying a business tax hike would “kill jobs”.

“It’s very simple,” he says. “Any time you raise taxes on the investment environment you have in a jurisdiction, you will experience a lack of investment and ultimately job loss.”

During this spring session, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said the province has a number of programs and tax credits people can use. She said Saskatchewan also has one of the lowest income taxes.

The province recently announced a plan to provide $100 rebate checks through SGI to address some of these concerns. — a measure called for by the NDP.

Moe said details on possible minimum wage changes are expected to be released in the coming days.

He said if the province’s revenue from commodities exceeds the fiscal forecast, the government will consider ways to use it to benefit all Saskatchewan residents.

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When asked if the province would scrap the additional PST if those windfall gains materialize, Moe again said the government would look at how it could return it to residents.

During Question Period in the Legislative Assembly, Moe ratcheted up the pressure on the NDP for the surtax hike idea, accusing the party of recycling it from former leaders.

“The NDP just doesn’t change,” he said. “The leader is changing, the leader is changing, the same old NDP.”

NDP Deputy Leader Nicole Sarauer said the timing of Moe’s minimum wage comments was interesting.

“I think it shows that the proposal our finance spokesperson presented today is interesting and has broad support,” she said. “I think he (Moe) is nervous.”

Sarauer said the NDP has long called on the province to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Wotherspoon said the Prime Minister’s rejection of the proposal shows “he is economically out of touch”.

“He’s, I don’t know, dancing for his money on that front,” he said. “It’s probably an indication of why this government has never been able to balance a budget and hasn’t really shown credibility on economic issues when addressing them.”

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