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Government announces changes to Graduate Retention Program

REGINA – Universities are receiving a one per cent increase in funding while technical institutions, like Sask Polytechnic will receive two per cent.

However, current graduates may see a big impact when it comes to their tax returns after the government announced changes to the Graduate Retention Program.

The program was first introduced in the 2008/2009 fiscal year. Graduates who stayed and worked in the province after completing their studies were eligible for up to a $20,000 refund. That refund is now being replaced with a tax credit, a change that will save the government more than $30 million.

The Graduate retention program appears to be a victim of its own success. More than 50 thousand people have had more than 80 million dollars refunded.

“We want to be able to continue with the Graduate Retention Program, so that’s why we’re spreading it out,” said Finance Minister, Ken Krawetz.

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Students will no longer get a refund; instead, they’ll receive a non-refundable tax credit rolled over ten years instead of seven.

“So if you don’t utilize the full amount available to you, you’ll carry it forward so to speak up until ten years out from now,” said Advance Education Minister, Kevin Doherty.

“When we’ve tracked our students, two years after graduating, the majority of our students are staying here and so we’ll monitor that closely,” said University of Regina president Vianne Timmons.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan budget holds line on taxes, but peels back incentives

In this year’s budget, there’s also an additional $4 million dollars for skills training and grants for students in the trades, as well as $600,000 for Adult Basic Education.

“That’s a big piece of what we do at SIIT and the government has continued to show its commitment to reduce waiting lists for Adult Basic Education. We see that as a big benefit to our institution,” said Riel Bellegarde, the Saskatcheawan Indian Institute of Technologies president and CEO.

“You just have to think, why do we have a wait list in the first place for something like Adult Basic Education when we know how important it is to a household that might want to access it and certainly to us economically as well,” said NDP finance critic, Trent Wotherspoon.

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The government is also making changes to a research and development tax credit. The rate is being reduced from 15 to 10 percent.

The Minister of Finance says this is the largest amount of capital they have ever budgeted for K-12 schools in the province’s history.