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Saskatchewan NDP calls for changes to new SaskPower, SaskEnergy fees

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses statistics, 80 per cent of small businesses in Saskatchewan are struggling with the new costs, and one out of six are considering closing their doors all together. File / Global News

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the provincial government to take a closer look at the problems small businesses are facing in the province.

“Small businesses aren’t just the backbone of our economy. Making up 99 per cent of businesses in Saskatchewan, they are also the heart of our community,” said Aleana Young, the economic critic for the Sask NDP.

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The Saskatchewan government recently approved both a SaskPower and SaskEnergy rate increase, which means one more expense for businesses such as T+A Vintage in Regina.

The shop is run by Tim and Amy Weisgarber, who say the addition of these costs coming out of the pandemic has really hurt them financially.

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“The reality is we have been in two years of not being able to plan anything, we’ve just been constantly going month to month, and just trying to stay afloat,” Amy said.

With the need for air conditioning in a coffee shop, bakery and a vintage clothing store, the prices can add up.

“it’s a huge challenge for us to react to that,” said Tim. “I think it’s unrealistic for anyone to adapt to it and expect our customers to adjust and be patient. That’s asking a lot from people who have already been under a lot of stress.”

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses statistics, 80 per cent of small businesses in Saskatchewan are struggling with the new costs, and one out of six are considering closing their doors altogether.

Read more: SaskPower seeks rate increases of 4% in both 2022 and 2023

“The addition of these costs and fees… are simply unattainable for businesses still struggling to recover  from the COVID-19 pandemic, the inflationary costs that are impacting all of us and the lack of consumer confidence that we see in the economy right now,” she said.

The provincial government has said in the past the increased rates are in direct response to the cost of energy rising across the country, including natural gas.

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In a statement, the government also said both Premier Scott Moe and Donna Harpauer, the minister of finance, will continue to look at ways all Saskatchewan people will benefit.

For Tim and Amy, they said they hope this isn’t the end of the families business, but the addition of these costs may speed up the process if nothing changes.

“It’s one more thing on the plate, it’s a load that we may or may not be able to carry,” Tim said.

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